Myth-Busting: The Good Cancer. We’re Talking About Thyroid Cancer Part Two
In the last segment “Myth-Busting: The Good Cancer. We’re Talking About Thyroid Cancer. I talked about how thyroid cancer, though often called the “good cancer” is really not so good after all. Why do so many people think it is? Why do even doctors refer to thyroid cancer in this manner? Are there positive aspects? – Could it be true?
First off, thyroid cancer (especially the papillary carcinoma type) is usually very slow growing. Since I had a throat cancer on top of my thyroid cancer, my doctors (after my operation for both) treated the more dangerous throat cancer first. Only after radiation and chemo for the throat cancer were completed, did my endocrinologist moved on to, continue to treat the thyroid cancer. If there were any cancerous thyroid cells left in my neck or elsewhere after the thyroidectomy, the doctors felt the cancer is so slow growing that there was no real danger in waiting with the RAI (Radio-active Iodine) treatment till later.
So the slow growth of most thyroid cancers can be a “good” thing
Thyroid cancer is usually localized and does not spread easily to other areas of the body. That, together with the slow growth, makes it easier to treat. Unless the cancer metastasized (=spread) there is normally no need for the very rough chemo or traditional radiation (bombardment) treatments, like for other cancers.
Usually no chemo with all its nasty side effects, that also is rather “good”
Speaking of RAI treatments (where the remnant thyroid cells soak up radio-active iodine which then kills them), this treatment, other than chemo or traditional radiation, does not affect other healthy cells, only thyroid cells. So, it is a very “selective” treatment. (Traditional radiation affect all cells treated, only the cancerous ones cannot recover as fast as healthy cells from the damage inflicted. That is why there are so many radiation treatments scheduled in a short time, to give the cancer cells no chance to recover Ã¢â‚¬” so they die off).
Not affecting other healthy cells, that sounds “good” to me
An experienced surgeon can usually remove the entire thyroid and affected tumor leaving only a small scar at the bottom of ones neck. It often is hardly noticeable.
I don’t look like Frankenstein, well that too, is a “good” thing for many
So, given the slow growth, and the fact that thyroid cancer seldom spreads, and its proven, treatment methods through surgery and subsequent RAI ablation (=removal of remnant thyroid cells), all this makes – and this is surely the most significant point of all here Ã¢â‚¬” for an excellent survivability rate. More than 95% of patients with papillary thyroid cancer survive for at least 10 years. (Source of this statistic: here)
Now that, I call “good” and “positive” indeed!!
And I assume that this prognosis is the reason this cancer acquired its tag line of being the “good cancer”.
One other point is the ability to detect even very small amounts of, thyroid cells in the body using the “whole body thyroid scan. It, if clean, allows the doctor to be relatively sure that there are no remnant (and therefor possibly cancerous) thyroid cells in any part of your body. My endocrinologist stated that if after one year the scan comes back negative, many doctors consider the patient “cured” of thyroid cancer.
Every one likes to hear the word “cured”. That surely is “good”.
Why do we get thyroid cancer? – U.S.News&World Report writes:
Thyroid cancer develops when cells in the thyroid grow uncontrollably. Many papillary and follicular thyroid cancers seem to be caused by mutations in genes. But it is not known why these changes happen in some people and not others.
Read, more about possible thyroid cancer causes: here
In conclusion I like to remind folks: it does not matter if you call it “good”- it is, and stays, a cancer! And that is with a capital “C” Cancer is frightening, – Cancer is a severe illness – Cancer is a wake up call – Cancer is life changing. — In the case of thyroid cancer Ã¢â‚¬” you will have to cope with the post treatments (hormone medication) for the rest of your life! You got rid of the cancer, but you still have a chronic disease!
I hope you learned a thing or two. And that is always “good”!!
Let me know what you think, we can always learn from each other.
HD in Oregon
Tags: Guest Bloggers, HD in Oregon, survivors, thyroid cancer blog, thyroid cancer community, thyroid cancer guest blogger, thyroid cancer misconceptions, thyroid cancer myths, thyroid cancer myths and misconceptions, thyroid cancer patients, thyroid cancer support, thyroid cancer survivors, thyroid cancer the good cancer