The thyroid gland derives its name from the Greek word for shield due to his shape. It is a small organ with two lobes and is located just below the voice box. A normal and healthy thyroid gland cannot be felt under the skin.
There are many conditions like iodine deficiency that can cause the thyroid gland to swell. But among all the complications that can arise out of a malfunctioning thyroid gland, thyroid cancer is the most serious.
The specific causes of thyroid cancer have not yet been determined. Additionally, since thyroid malfunction symptoms are extremely general in nature, diagnosis is generally delayed. And therefore, most of the thyroid treatments are initiated at a stage when the thyroid cancer has reached a mature stage. Therefore, the thyroid medication takes much longer to show positive results.
The first indication of thyroid cancer is a swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck. These appear along the blood vessels, and a test for abnormal levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) should be administered immediately. The confirmation of the thyroid cancer can be done by checking calcium levels, ultrasonography or a radionuclide scan. In certain cases, a biopsy may also need to be performed for a microscopic examination.
In cases where the cancer has spread considerably, external radiation is suggested to control further spread of the cancerous tissue. Radioactive Iodine Therapy does not require hospitalization. This therapy does not does not work in if the cancer is related to the medulla. It also does not show significant positive results if the cancer involves a rapid increase in cancerous cells.
In cases where the thyroid cancer has reached an advanced stage, radioactive iodine therapy does not work well. In such situations, external radioactive therapy is used. This involves destroying cancerous cells with high-energy X-Rays. The process can mean daily visits to the hospital for several weeks.
Given the side effects that radioactive therapy involves, many patients opt for surgery for thyroid cancer. Surgery includes a complete or partial removal of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid treatment can also be done using drugs that kill cancerous cells. Commonly known as chemotherapy, this treatment can result in destroying cancerous cells along with healthy ones. It debilitates the immune system and can increase the chances of contracting further infections.
Chemotherapy, radioactive therapy, and surgery are all treatments that have various side effects and complications. These treatments mean constant visits to the hospital. Further, surgical treatment requires patients to artificially supplement the natural thyroid hormone.
Alternative thyroid treatments and natural thyroid medications are options that have been gaining popularity. These treatments and medications help in supplementing thyroid hormones in a more natural and healthier manner as compared to chemical alternatives.