Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the cells of the thyroid gland, which is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the thyroid gland begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, forming a tumor. It does not always have symptoms until the thyroid becomes quite enlarged and swollen.
These also present in many non-cancerous thyroid conditions, so medical diagnosis and testing is essential.
*Information supplied is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or treat a condition. Refer to your medical professional.
Papillary thyroid cancer – Most common in ages 30 – 50. The most common form of thyroid cancer, accounting for 80% of all thyroid cancers. Papillary thyroid cancer arises from follicular cells, which produce and store thyroid hormones.
Follicular thyroid cancer. Follicular thyroid cancer usually affects people older than age 50. This type makes up about 10-15% of thyroid cancers. It tends to spread to other organs, such as the lungs or bones, more frequently than papillary carcinoma.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer that grows rapidly and is difficult to treat. Anaplastic thyroid cancer typically occurs in adults age 60 and over and accounts for about 2% of thyroid cancers.
Medullary thyroid cancer. Medullary thyroid cancer begins in thyroid cells called C cells, where the hormone calcitonin is produced. Elevated levels of calcitonin in the blood can indicate very early stage medullary cancer. It accounts for about 4% of thyroid cancers.
Other rare types include thyroid lymphoma, which begins in the immune system cells of the thyroid, and thyroid sarcoma, which begins in the connective tissue cells of the thyroid.
At The Lucy Rose Clinic, we focus on reversing early signs of thyroid disease by correcting the health and function of the body. Functional screening picks up the subtle changes and guides a treatment that is aimed at correcting dysfunction with a holistic approach.
From a Functional Health perspective, we are not trying to diagnose your thyroid cancer but to understand how and why a thyroid may be malfunctioning. Therefore, further testing is used to under the complete picture behind the symptoms. We aim to treat the cause, not just the symptoms.
This panel tests 8 markers which is essential to understanding the function of your thyroid, your metabolism and any inflammation that is present in the body. This test is critical for thyroid cancer patients and is often run at regular intervals.
Bromide blocks iodine absorption in the body creating a state of ill health. Cancer patients may need to avoid iodine depending on where they are along their cancer treatment journey. As iodine is a known carcinopreventive agent, assessing your levels and supplementing under professional guidance is recommended.
Stress has been well associated with thyroid hormone dysregulation, and even is questioned as a factor to cancer due to how stress interferes with the immune response, suppressing the function of immune-protective cells. Cortisol testing is recommended, as well as melatonin, as healing occurs during deep sleep.
This test investigates blood glucose and insulin levels which have been linked to the development of metabolic imbalances that can affect cancer growth via a number of mechanisms. This needs to be assessed alongside other markers as part of a complete testing profile.
Thyroid cancer was significantly associated with a higher risk for cerebrovascular disease and atrial fibrillation in both patients with and without radioactive iodine treatment. Screening is recommended even if no symptoms are present as part of a thorough testing protocol.
The key nutrients affecting the metabolic system include B12, active Folate, vitamin D3, and iron studies. Our testing ensures that supplemental recommendations are precise and support your best outcomes, as well as energy, weight, and moods.
Deranged liver enzymes affecting detoxification of the body due to cancer are not uncommon, especially if radiation or chemotherapy has been administered in a patient’s lifetime. This range of tests allows a practitioner to recommend the most appropriate herbs and/or nutrients to support liver health and optimal function.
Thyroid cancer occurs more often in women than in men and experts think it may be related to the hormone estrogen. This profile assesses the three major sex hormones which all can impact, drive, or put into remission certain types of cancer.
People with cancer are more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, food allergies, and food intolerances. Removing specific foods from the diet for a period of time according to a blood test reduces inflammation, and improves digestive symptoms when used as a part of a healing program.
The following information is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor for specific advice.
Your doctor will examine your neck to feel for any lumps or tenderness in your thyroid.
A blood test is usually run next, but not always. Thyroid tests will include TSH and are used to start to build a picture of your thyroid status.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of the thyroid gland and surrounding tissues, and/or lymph nodes.
The ultrasound transducer is placed on your lower neck and the pictures helps your provider determine if it’s likely to be cancer.
In this procedure, the practitioner inserts a long, thin needle through your skin and into the suspected thyroid nodule to remove some cells from the thyroid to be sent to a lab for further testing.
Results are not always conclusive and repeat testing may be needed.
Further testing can include;
Your thyroid cancer treatment options depend on the type and stage of your thyroid cancer, your overall health, and your preferences.
Most people diagnosed with thyroid cancer have an excellent prognosis, as most thyroid cancers can be cured with treatment.
This surgical procedure removes all or part of the thyroid gland which is the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the throat.
If the entire gland is removed, the patient will require thyroid medication for life as the thyroid is no longer there.
If a part of the thyroid has been removed, you may or may not require medication. Your doctor will monitor you with regular blood tests in the months after the surgery to assess medication needs or dosage changes.
Thyroidectomy is considered a relatively safe surgery, but like all surgery has risks that your doctor will inform you of.
Damage to the vocal cords is rare and if it does occur is normally temporary. Up to 1 in 50 cases have a permanently hoarse voice post-surgery.
If there is damage to the parathyroid glands you may need to be treated with calcium and vitamin D tablets as well.
Thyroid cancer often spreads to nearby lymph nodes in the neck. Some lymph nodes may be removed in the surgical proceedure if needed as well.
If your thyroid is removed completely, you will need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of your life to replace the hormones your thyroid made before your operation.
If your thyroid blood tests show that you are hypothyroid, you will be prescribed thyroid replacement medicine to bolster low levels of thyroid hormone. In Australia, the most commonly prescribed thyroid medication is Levothyroxine (Oroxine/Eutroxsig/Eltroxin/Levoxine).
These are synthetic forms of the hormone Levothyroxine (T4) that our thyroid gland produces.
Tertroxin is a synthetic form of “liothyronine” (T3) usually prescribed by a thyroid treating specialist (Endocrinologist) and is the active form of thyroxine. It can be prescribed to take with Levothyroxine (T4) medication or alone.
Radioactive iodine (RAI) is a medical treatment method for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer. RAI is a form of radioactive nuclear medication that permanently destroys the thyroid tissue.
This means that people will need to take lifelong thyroid hormone replacement medication following RAI treatment.
After treatment, people need to isolate themselves after for a window of time to prevent infecting others from radiation exposure. Your doctor will instruct you on specific timelines and spacing distances needed to adhere to for the safety of others – particularly children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Options may include:
Targeted drug therapy. There are many different targeted therapy drugs for thyroid cancer which your oncologist will discuss with you.
Radiation therapy. External beam radiation uses a machine that aims high-energy beams to precise points on your body to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. There are many different chemotherapy drugs that can be used alone or in combination.
Integrative treatments are available for you at all stages of the cancer journey and can greatly improve your quality of life, treatment outcomes, mental health, and general feelings of wellness.
Always work with an experienced integrative practitioner as nutrients and herbs can have unwanted side effects when used in conjunction with medical treatments.
Common deficiencies in essential nutrients include iodine, vitamin D3, magnesium, B12, and active folate (L-Methylfolate). A functional health practitioner can test for vitamin and mineral deficiencies so these can be adequately treated.
In some cases we can use high-dose iodine therapy to reverse small benign nodules, preventing further complications in the future.
An antiangiogenic diet coupled with nutritional and herbal treatment can have powerful effects on cancer growth rate.
Antiangiogenic therapy represents a new approach to the early intervention and prevention of malignant disease.
Potent antiangiogenic molecules have now been identified in dietary sources, suggesting that a rationally designed antiangiogenic diet could provide a safe, widely available, and practical strategy for preventing tumorous growths fed by angiogenesis.
It is also useful to avoid any foods that specifically cause inflammation in your body (which can be detected by doing a food intolerance test).
There are many amazing and well-studied herbal medicines that can support your cancer journey, minimise treatment side effects, and help you recover faster.
Your naturopath or herbalist will be able to prescribe safely alongside any medications and treatment and supply you with documentation to show your oncologist so everyone is on the same page.
Book a free 15-minute consult with one of our practitioners and find out how we can support you on your path to better health – no matter what stage of your cancer journey you are on.