The challenging landscape of thyroid cancer requires resilience and a comprehensive understanding of the journey ahead. For those struggling with this diagnosis, the path to recovery often involves not only medical interventions but also emotional and psychological support.
According to Dr Sonal Sakhale, Consultant – Nuclear Medicine, HCG Cancer Centre, Nagpur, “The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, plays a pivotal role in regulating various bodily functions by producing hormones like T – 3 that influence metabolism. Despite its essential function, the thyroid is susceptible to cancer, a condition that often comes with a myriad of risk factors such as genetic predisposition, alcohol consumption, exposure to radiation and more.”
Apart from these, thyroid cancer shrouds misconceptions which need to be debunked. Let’s delve into the basics of thyroid cancer, dispelling common myths and providing accurate information as shared by Dr Sonal.
Myth 1: Thyroid Cancer is Always Fatal
Fact: While any cancer diagnosis can be daunting, thyroid cancer has a high survival rate. The majority of thyroid cancers are highly treatable, and many individuals go on to live healthy, normal lives after treatment. Early detection and advances in medical interventions contribute significantly to positive outcomes. Regular check-ups and awareness play a vital role in identifying and treating thyroid cancer in its early stages.
Myth 2: Only Women Get Thyroid Cancer
Fact: While it is true that thyroid cancer is more prevalent in women, men can also develop this condition. The reasons for the higher incidence in women are not entirely clear, but hormonal factors may contribute. Men, however, should not dismiss the possibility of thyroid cancer, and everyone, regardless of gender, should remain vigilant about their thyroid health.
Myth 3: Thyroid Cancer Always Presents with Noticeable Symptoms
Fact: Thyroid cancer can be asymptomatic in its early stages. Unlike other cancers that may manifest through noticeable symptoms, thyroid cancer can develop without causing any apparent signs. This makes regular screenings and thyroid check-ups essential, especially for individuals with a family history of thyroid issues or other risk factors.
Myth 4: Thyroid Cancer is Not Preventable
Fact: While there may not be foolproof ways to prevent thyroid cancer, certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk. A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and avoiding excessive radiation exposure to the neck area are all factors that can contribute to lowering the risk of thyroid cancer. However, it’s important to note that some risk factors, such as genetics, cannot be controlled.
Myth 5: Removing the Thyroid Gland Means Lifelong Health Issues
Fact: Surgery to remove the thyroid, known as a thyroidectomy, is a common treatment for thyroid cancer, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to a lifetime of health problems. With proper medication and monitoring, individuals who undergo thyroidectomy can lead healthy lives. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy helps maintain the body’s essential functions, ensuring that patients can continue their daily activities without significant disruptions.
Myth 6: Thyroid Cancer is the Same for Everyone
Fact: There are different types of thyroid cancer, each with its own characteristics and treatment approaches. Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers are the most common and generally have favourable outcomes. Medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancers are rarer and may be more aggressive. Tailoring treatment plans based on the specific type and stage of thyroid cancer is crucial for optimal outcomes.
Dr Sonal shares, “Treatment modalities for thyroid cancer include surgery, the primary approach for removing the thyroid gland or tumour; radioactive iodine therapy to target any remaining thyroid tissue; external beam radiation for more aggressive cases; and thyroid hormone replacement to maintain hormonal balance.”