Thyroid Cancer Symptoms, Types and Treatments

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms, Types and Treatments 1024 538 Community Clinical Pharmacy

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms, Types and Treatments

An In-Depth Approach to Thyroid Cancer from a Survivor's Perspective

It was December of 2013 when I started having blurred vision, neck stiffness and pain that would go down my left arm. I was experiencing severe headaches that lasted days on end. In summary, I just felt like something was terribly wrong. Due to switching to new health insurance, I was in between doctors and had not been seen by my new primary care physician yet. My previous PCP had not been very attentive and I don’t recall her ever checking my neck. I was eventually seen by my new doctor and during the first physical exam, she felt a lump in the front of my neck. An ultrasound confirmed multiple nodules on my thyroid gland, the largest being 1.5cm (0.6 inches) in diameter. The biopsy of 5 nodules showed thyroid cancer in every one of them. So I had the diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

My Journey to Recovery

My thyroid gland and all the nodules were then surgically removed. I woke up after surgery and was amazed that my neck pain and stiffness, along with the pain in my left arm were gone. My vision was back to being normal and after recovering from surgery, I felt better than I had felt in a long time.

The next step involved me taking radioactive iodine to zap all thyroid cancer in my body. I had to stay away from everyone especially small pets and children because the radiation from my treatment could destroy someone else’s thyroid gland. It was a great time for reflection as I was stuck in our basement and no one was able to come near me.

After it was confirmed that all cancer was gone (through scans), my endocrinologist started me on thyroid medicine, which I will take for the rest of my life. 

Thyroid Cancer

It is estimated that there are over 50,000 new cases of thyroid cancer each year in the US. It is the most prevalent endocrine cancer in this country.

In the early stages of thyroid cancer, some patients may not experience any symptoms at all. 

However, as thyroid cancer develops, a person may experience a lump or nodule in the front of the neck, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, hoarseness or difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and pain in the throat or neck. Although these are typical symptoms, it is important to remember that sometimes, a person’s symptoms do not match the textbook (or google) description.

Types of Thyroid Cancer

There are several types of thyroid cancer such as papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic. 

90% of thyroid cancers are papillary and follicular kind. If detected early, most papillary and follicular thyroid cancers can be treated successfully.

3-4% of all thyroid cancers are Medullary thyroid carcinoma. Medullary cancer is easier to treat and control if found before it spreads to other parts of the body. 

1-2% of all thyroid cancers are Anaplastic thyroid. This is a very aggressive type of thyroid cancer and is difficult to control and treat. 

While most thyroid cancer patients are cured, the rate of recurrence can be up to 30%. That is why it is important for patients to get regular follow-up examinations to detect whether cancer has returned. 

A person is more likely to get thyroid cancer if she is a woman, has a family history of thyroid cancer, prior exposure of the thyroid gland to radiation and is over 40 years of age. 

Treatments

Surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are the usual treatments for thyroid cancer. In most cases, patients undergo surgery to remove most or all of the thyroid gland. They are then treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy

At Community Clinical Pharmacy, we compound individualized thyroid medications for people who are in need of thyroid hormone therapy.

To learn more about thyroid imbalances and treatment options, please call us and ask to speak to myself or one of our knowledgeable pharmacists. 


Sharzad Green, Pharm. D., is a hormone replacement specialist & pharmacist at Community Clinical Pharmacy, in Mesa, Arizona. She offers private Hormone Replacement Consultations to find a tailored solution that fits your needs. Sharzad has had the privilege of working with over 12,000 patients and providers in the Valley and around the world.

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When in doubt, contact one of our knowledgeable pharmacists at Community Clinical Pharmacy. We are here to offer you solutions and assist you in making informed decisions about your health.

Contact us with comments, questions, or pharmacy
related topics you’d like to know more about. And, as always, stay healthy!

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