Thyroid cancer or Thyroid cancer is a not very common cancer. However, thyroid cancer is mostly of a malignant nature, so that medical treatment is absolutely necessary, as otherwise the disease can lead to death. The causes are not yet fully understood. However, one assumes a lack of iodine or pre-existing thyroid diseases. Hereditary causes are also possible.
Thyroid cancer can go unnoticed for a long time. An enlargement of the organ is usually noticed first by breathing difficulties. This leads to shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing, but also hoarseness and swelling in the area of the airways.
Of the Thyroid cancer, in medical terminology also as Thyroid cancer is a malignant tumor that affects the cells of the thyroid gland.
Medicine distinguishes between the following four types of carcinoma, depending on the cells from which it developed: follicular carcinoma, papillary carcinoma, medullary carcinoma and anaplastic carcinoma.
This cancer is one of the rare types of cancer; Every year around 5,000 people in Germany develop thyroid cancer. Women are affected by this disease much more often than men.
The far-reaching causes of the disease Thyroid cancer have not yet been clarified.
However, there are some factors that definitely favor this disease. Iodine deficiency is reported to be one of the most common causes of thyroid cancer. It is therefore important to ensure that the body is supplied with sufficient iodine, especially when it comes to diet.
Some previous illnesses of the thyroid gland can also lead to the outbreak of thyroid cancer. Some ionizing rays can also lead to the onset of this disease. The Chernobyl reactor disaster or the atomic bombing disasters in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, for example, produced a huge amount of such dangerous radiation.
But this is also hereditary; Genetic factors also play a role in the development of this disease.
Thyroid cancer can go unnoticed for a long time. An enlargement of the organ is usually noticed first by breathing difficulties. This leads to shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing, but also hoarseness and swelling in the area of the airways. The lymph nodes also swell, which can result in coughing and fever symptoms.
Occasionally, the swellings of the lymph nodes and thyroid can be felt externally. They are accompanied by an increasing feeling of pressure and pain. Certain forms of thyroid cancer progress faster than others. It usually takes months or even years for the first symptoms to be noticed.
By then the disease is usually well advanced and the cancer may have spread to the surrounding areas of the body. If the cancer is identified and treated in good time, the tumor can often be removed before it metastasizes. The accompanying symptoms subside as soon as the growth has been removed.
Untreated thyroid cancer progresses and ultimately leads to the death of the patient. Before this, the tumor forms metastases in the surrounding body regions. As a result, the original symptoms initially increase - there are shortness of breath, changes in the color of the voice and non-specific general symptoms such as pain, fever and nerve disorders. The exact type and severity of the symptoms depends on the location of the tumor.
The course of Thyroid cancer varies from case to case. In the early stages, however, there are usually hardly any symptoms. Only when the tumor has visibly enlarged do the patients notice a kind of lump in the area of the thyroid gland. This can become so large that it can put pressure on the esophagus and windpipe, causing the patient problems with eating or breathing.
In the further course of the disease, it can come to the point that nerve tracts are also damaged and the vocal cords are paralyzed. As a result, some thyroid cancer patients often have hoarse voices. The so-called Horner syndrome, in turn, is characterized by the fact that, as already noted, the pupil constricts and, as the process progresses, the eyeball sinks back into the eye socket. This causes the upper eyelid to hang down on the affected side.
Thyroid cancer can usually be clearly diagnosed using ultrasound. So-called scintigraphy, an imaging process, is also often used. During the thyroid puncture, the doctor pierces the suspicious lump with a fine needle and removes tissue. Laryngoscopy and bone scintigraphy are additional measures required to rule out the possibility of metastases having migrated to the lungs or other neighboring organs.
Thyroid cancer can develop a number of complications over time. As a result of the disease, paralysis of the vocal folds, voice changes and hormonal disorders cannot be ruled out. It can also lead to physical failure and permanent damage to the kidneys, liver and heart. Serious illness can lead to chronic pain, which in connection with the illness itself can also cause psychological complaints.
Those affected are often depressed and sometimes suffer from panic attacks. When treating thyroid cancer, various complications can arise, depending on the type of treatment. For example, radiation therapy can cause acute side effects such as gastrointestinal complaints, fatigue and hair loss.
In the long term, damage to the mucous membrane and discoloration of the skin are conceivable. Very rarely, radiotherapy itself can cause cancer. Chemotherapy can have similar consequences. Added to this are possible organ damage, reproductive disorders, and infections. Radioiodine therapy can lead to temporary changes in the bone marrow and blood count as well as edema and disorders of the lacrimal function.
Surgery can be associated with bleeding, nerve injuries, impaired wound healing, and other complications. In addition, the medication administration can lead to longer-lasting symptoms.
If symptoms such as persistent hoarseness, hair loss, or repeated constipation occur, the cause may be thyroid cancer. A visit to the doctor is recommended if the symptoms get worse and cannot be alleviated by rest and protection. If you gain weight, it is best to consult your doctor immediately. People who do not have a balanced diet and, in particular, do not take enough iodine, have an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer. Even after exposure to radioactive radiation, there is a risk of a tumor forming in the thyroid gland.
People who have had radiation treatment for cancer should let their doctor know if they notice any of these symptoms. If the disease occurs in families, there is also an increased risk. Regular check-ups are indicated. Thyroid cancer is treated by an internist. Further contacts are the family doctor and, depending on the symptoms, various specialists. As part of the therapy, nutritionists and, if necessary, physiotherapists must also be consulted who will support the patient in implementing the medical requirements.Advanced cancer is treated as an inpatient in a specialist clinic.
Treatment of Thyroid cancer depends on how far the disease has progressed. In most cases, however, this treatment consists of a combination of surgery and radiation. Hormone therapy is also often used. This is usually necessary when the patient's entire thyroid had to be removed and the patient now has to take thyroid hormones.
However, for smaller tumors that are less than one centimeter in diameter, the entire thyroid usually does not have to be removed. The chemotherapy, which is otherwise used for most types of cancer, has not yet proven itself in thyroid cancer, as these types of tumors often do not respond to the drugs. If the thyroid cancer is detected in time, however, there is a very good chance of a cure.
Follow-up care for thyroid cancer begins in the clinic, with the attending physician preparing the patient for a life without thyroid gland through detailed discussions. Most important is the consistent intake of thyroid hormones in the prescribed dosage. This is determined and checked by regular blood tests. With this thyroid hormone replacement therapy, those affected can usually lead a completely normal life.
A recurrence of thyroid cancer rarely occurs, but with appropriate follow-up examinations, a recurrence can be detected and combated early. In the beginning, these examinations take place every three to six months at the endocrinologist, nuclear medicine specialist or in the hospital; if there are no symptoms, the intervals can later be extended to a year.
In addition to a detailed discussion, a physical examination is carried out; the thyroglobulin level in the blood, an ultrasound and, if necessary, a full-body scintigraphy also provide important clues. The attending physician decides which examinations are necessary: The follow-up scheme depends on the type and spread of the tumor and the therapy carried out.
If metastasis is suspected in the lungs, the doctor may order chest x-rays or positron emission tomography (PET). Psycho-oncological support can be used to provide psychological support after cancer, and it is also helpful to talk to other people affected in a self-help group.
Thyroid cancer belongs in the treatment of the specialized doctor, but is also accessible to self-help in everyday life. The main aim here is to alleviate the consequences of treatments and to deal with the psychological coping with the clinical picture. Due to the rarity of thyroid cancer, it is advisable to talk to self-help groups, which can help with tips and enable valuable information to be passed on among like-minded people. Internet forums and thyroid disease associations are also often helpful.
After therapy, thyroid hormone supplies are often necessary. These cannot be ideally adjusted immediately. Therefore, weight, as well as mood swings, must be carefully monitored in order to be able to react appropriately. Physical reactions can also be noted and communicated to the doctor with a view to a specific setting. In this context, the spectrum ranges from heart stumbling to digestive problems. It is also very important for the patient to have regular blood tests to check the level of thyroid hormones.
A healthy lifestyle supports regeneration after the therapies and the patient's well-being. This includes sufficient sleep and a balanced diet with sufficient amounts of water to drink. Fluid is very important, especially after a neck operation. This makes swallowing the food much easier. Care should also be taken to protect the vocal cords immediately after an operation.