November 6, 2009

Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancers

Posted in Category : Women's Health

The Thyroid: The thyroid is an endocrine gland. It is responsible for the synthesis of proteins, regulates the body’s sensitivity to hormones, and controls how quickly the body burns energy. This gland is located in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple, or thyroid cartilage. Thyroid Cancer. Although pregnancy has no connection to thyroid cancer, women are three times more likely to contract thyroid cancer as compared to men. The chances of contracting cancer of the thyroid gland increases as you grow older. Do keep in mind, however, that all nodules on the thyroid gland are not necessarily malignant. In fact 99% of the nodules found on the thyroid gland are benign.

There are four different types of thyroid cancer. The most common type of thyroid cancer is Papillary Thyroid Cancer. Follicular Thyroid Cancer is also quite common. The other types of thyroid cancer are relatively uncommon and include Medullary, and Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer and the treatment has a success rate of 97%. The treatment involves surgically removing the lobes of the thyroid gland that have been affected by the cancer. Follicular thyroid cancers also have a very large rate of recovery. However, the two most uncommon types of thyroid cancer, medullary and anaplastic, do not enjoy such high success rates in treatment.

Thyroid Cancer and Pregnancy:

Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers grow and spread slowly. Under most circumstances, your physician will advise you to delay surgery until after childbirth. This is because post-surgery, patients are subjected to doses of radioactive iodine to ensure that all the cancer cells are killed. This radioactive iodine may harm your unborn child. You may also be prescribed thyroxine, a thyroid hormone, to control the growth of the cancer. Although there have not been any studies that show that this medication has adverse effects on an unborn child, most doctors advise a patient to not undergo this treatment while pregnant.

If the cancer is aggressive and seems to be spreading rapidly, surgery may have to be performed during pregnancy itself. Under such circumstances, the surgery is usually performed around the second trimester. This timing minimizes the chances of the surgery affecting your unborn child. However, since radioactive iodine cannot be administered during pregnancy, there is always a risk of the cancer cells re-growing and spreading throughout your body. So, it is essential that if you undergo surgery during pregnancy, you follow up with your physician regarding the administration of radioactive iodine after your child is born.