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A Comprehensive Guide to Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Papillary Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland assists in regulating metabolism, producing hormones that help control the heart rate, body temperature, and energy levels. When cancerous cells invade the thyroid gland, they can disrupt its normal function and create a range of symptoms, such as a lump or swelling in the neck, difficulty swallowing or breathing, hoarseness, and unexplained weight loss.

While thyroid cancer is relatively rare compared to other types of cancer, it is still a significant health concern in the United States. According to a report by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 43,720 new thyroid cancer cases will likely be diagnosed in the US in 2023.

Despite the high survival rate of thyroid cancer, it is important to be mindful of the risk factors and symptoms associated with the disease. This blog will dive deeper into thyroid cancer and help you choose the right Papillary cancer treatment in Anchorage, AK.

What Is Papillary Thyroid Cancer? 

Thyroid cancer originates in the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones to regulate the body's metabolic processes.  When abnormal cells in the thyroid gland proliferate uncontrollably, they can then form a mass or tumor and cause various symptoms, including trouble swallowing, hoarseness in the voice, and a lump or swelling in the neck.

There are various types of thyroid cancer, the most prevalent being papillary and follicular cancer. Fortunately, thyroid cancer is often curable, especially when detected early. Treatment alternatives may include surgery to remove the thyroid gland or radiation therapy, depending on the type and stage of the cancer.

How to Spot Papillary Thyroid Cancer?

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most widespread type, accounting for about 80% of all cases. While it can be challenging to detect papillary thyroid cancer in its early stages, there are several signs and symptoms that you can look out for to help identify the disease. Here are some clear indicators of how to spot papillary thyroid cancer:

Neck lump or enlargement 

Papillary thyroid cancer often presents as a lump or nodule on the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck. The tumor may not hurt, but it has the potential to enlarge over time.

Voice Shifts or Hoarseness

As cancer spreads, the vocal cords may be affected, which could cause hoarseness or other voice alterations.

Having Trouble Eating 

Large thyroid cancers can press on the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow food or liquid.

Larger Lymph Glands

You might experience neck swelling or lumps if cancer has expanded to the lymph nodes, also located in the area of the neck.

Weakness or Exhaustion

Like many other kinds of cancer, papillary thyroid cancer can result in weakness, exhaustion, or unexplained weight loss.

Pain in the Neck or Throat

In some cases, papillary thyroid cancer can cause pain or discomfort in the neck or throat.

If you undergo any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor for further evaluation and pursue Papillary cancer treatment in Anchorage, AK.

See also: What Are the Early Warning Signs of Thyroid Problems?

Characteristics of Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer develops from the thyroid gland's follicular cells (the main cell type of the thyroid) and grows slowly, allowing for early detection and therapy. It is more prevalent in women and often occurs at a younger age. It often presents as a painless lump or nodule on the thyroid gland in the neck. Cancer can also spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant parts of the body, although this type is generally less aggressive than the other kinds of thyroid cancer.

In many cases, papillary thyroid cancer can be successfully treated with surgery to remove the thyroid gland, along with additional radioactive iodine therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. If detected early, papillary thyroid cancer has an excellent prognosis and a high chance of survival.

What Causes Papillary Thyroid Cancer?

The exact causes of thyroid cancer are unknown, but several risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Here are some signs of what causes papillary thyroid cancer—

  • Exposure to radiation resulting from environmental or medical causes
  • Cases of thyroid cancer or other related diseases in the family medical history
  • Some hereditary changes, like those linked to familial adenomatous polyposis or Cowden syndrome
  • Age and gender, with younger people and women at greater risk for iodine insufficiency 
  • Thyroid gland inflammation or swelling 

Survival Rate of Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer has a 5-year overall survival rate of about 97%, with a higher survival rate for individuals who identify the disease early and receive the right care.

Treatment and Diagnosis Options for Thyroid Cancer

Treatment choice depends on the type, stage, and severity of the cancer, as well as the patient's overall health and preferences. A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including an endocrinologist, surgeon, and radiation oncologist, may work together to prescribe an individualized treatment plan for each patient. Treatment and diagnosis options are as follows—

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination of the neck
  • Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI
  • Biopsy of the thyroid gland to confirm the diagnosis fully

Treatment

1. Surgery to remove the thyroid gland

2. Radioactive iodine therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells

3. External beam radiation therapy

4. Chemotherapy or targeted therapy for advanced cases

5. Active surveillance for certain low-risk cases

6. Hormone replacement therapy to replace the thyroid hormone that the body needs

Laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive treatment choice, can remove cancerous tissue while repairing or rebuilding the injured area. Other treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical oncology.

See also: Thyroid Disease Treatment- An Overview of the Available Options

Your Partner in Overcoming Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Far North Surgery is home to a team of exceptional and certified general surgeons led by Dr. Prasad. We join forces with other experts to ensure our patients receive top-notch medical treatment. We prioritize patient safety and comfort while also striving to achieve favorable outcomes in every case.

Dr. Prasad, nominated for the Best of Anchorage Awards for Cancer Treatment, is dedicated to improving patients’ health and providing them with the utmost care and compassion.

Book an appointment, and let our team of specialists provide you with help in your recovery and relief!

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