UNDERSTANDING THYROID CANCER
Thyroid cancers are classified as well differentiated cancers (papillary & follicular), medullary and poorly differentiated anaplastic cancers. Papillary cancers usually present is young age as compared to anaplastic cancers which present in elderly individuals. Thyroid cancers present with symptomatic nodules or swellings in the front of neck. Sometimes they may be diagnosed as incidentally detected thyroid nodules on imaging done for other ailments. Diagnosis is confirmed with ultrasonography and guided FNA from suspicious thyroid nodules.
The treatment of well differentiated thyroid carcinomas is total thyroidectomy with cervical lymph node dissection. There is no role of conventional chemo-radiotherapy in these cancers. Postoperatively some patients may need radio-iodine scan and ablation of any active lesion after 3-4 weeks of surgery.
Medullary thyroid carcinomas are uncommon as compared to papillary cancers. The treatment involves total thyroidectomy and bilateral cervical lymph node dissection followed by radiation therapy. Anaplastic thyroid cancers usually occur in elderly individuals and are rare and aggressive tumors. Most patient may be inoperable at presentation and have very poor outcomes.