It is very important to undergo regular mammograms for screening for breast cancer and prophylactic examinations by a dermatologist to ensure that there is no melanoma. It is equally important to control the state of the thyroid gland as part of the prevention of malignant neoplasms, especially since the number of oncological pathology episodes of this organ is growing rapidly.
Some numbers and facts
Did you know?
- According to world medical statistics, the number of patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer has doubled since the 1970s.
- The share of this disease accounts for up to 1% of all malignant neoplasms.
- However, in some regions, pathology is much more common. For example, in the Russian Federation with a large margin in the number of patients with thyroid cancer, the Bryansk region is in the lead, with Krasnodar Krai in second place.
- Every 15th inhabitant of our planet underwent thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid gland).
- Women are 3.5 times more likely to develop the disease than men.
“Although the diagnosis sounds scary, there is no reason to panic,” says Ilya Likhterov, MD, associate professor at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the Ikana Medical School of the Mount Sinai Center in New York. – It is true that thyroid often becomes the target of a tumor, but usually it is a papillary cancer of the organ that is the least aggressive. ”
Ilya Likhterov explains that the increase in the number of patients with this diagnosis indicates not only that more and more people in the world are becoming victims of the disease. It can also mean that doctors today have learned to do their job better, and they are much more likely to detect a tumor in its early stages.
Thanks to blood tests, ultrasound, computed tomography, biopsy, laryngoscopy, and other modern diagnostic methods, the thyroid gland and its functionality can be studied in detail and thoroughly. Today it is quite possible to detect very small neoplasms. Even if they turn out to be malignant, many of them are so tiny and grow so slowly that they can never cause serious problems throughout a person’s life.
However, not all thyroid cancers are so harmless. Therefore, it is wise to immediately consult a doctor if a person has noticed that there is a change in voice, breathing is impaired or any other of the following symptoms has appeared.
Feeling of a lump in the throat
The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, so any tumor often signals its appearance by this unpleasant sensation. If it does not disappear within a couple of weeks, we recommend contacting an otolaryngologist.
“If the cancer has already spread to nearby lymph nodes, the sensation of a lump may be on the side of the neck, where they are located, and not in the front, where the thyroid gland is located,” explains Ilya Likhterov.
Problems with swallowing with enlargement of the thyroid gland
Such a feeling may accompany the flu and other acute respiratory infections. But sometimes it shows much more serious problems. This happens when, as its mass grows, the tumor begins to interfere with normal swallowing.
If, as in the case of the sensation of a piece stuck in the throat, the symptom does not disappear a couple of weeks after it occurs, it is necessary to consult a doctor to understand its cause.
“The human vocal apparatus is located directly above the thyroid gland, so any pathological changes in this organ can make the voice hoarse,” Lichter says.
If hoarseness does not go away for several weeks, and there are no other objective reasons (sore throat, flu, etc.), an ENT specialist should examine the throat.
Often a person begins to suspect an attack of the disease only when he notices such serious problems in his body as breathing problems.
Unfortunately, this symptom appears only when oncopathology progresses. If breathing is difficult, close attention of specialists and immediate medical attention are required.
Disease Treatment Options
If it develops thyroid cancer, the choice of treatment methods will depend on the size of the tumor, the stage of the cancer. “Some tumors with a size of less than 1 centimeter can be left under observation,” says Lichter. As they grow slowly, the doctor can delay treatment and simply send the patient to an ultrasound every six months to make sure that nothing changes. In this case, the specialist can choose the same “waiting” tactic that is used to monitor patients with prostate cancer.
Large or more aggressive tumors must be removed immediately, but it does not necessarily get rid of the entire thyroid gland. “It used to be the norm,” Lichter explains.
- But if you remove the entire body, then for the rest of your life you will need to take thyroid hormones.
- There is also a risk of damage to the adjacent, parathyroid glands, which control the balance of calcium in the body.
Currently, in many patients, only part of the thyroid gland affected by the tumor is removed, thus avoiding side effects.
Depending on the characteristics of a particular episode of the disease, the patient may also need:
- symptomatic treatment.
Fortunately, the chances of winning thyroid cancer are usually very high.
Did you know?
- Over the past decade, according to experts, the survival rate of patients with this oncopathology has been increased by half.
- If earlier the death rate was 14.4%, then today it is registered at around 7.4%.
- The 5-year survival rate for the papillary or follicular form at stage I and II is almost 100%.
However, during these years the patient is identified as surviving after cancer. To achieve complete remission, he must live without a relapse. diseases 5 years. He needs to:
- do scintigraphy every year;
- twice a year to undergo ultrasound examination;
- take blood tests regularly to make sure the cancer has receded.