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Wednesday November 13th 2019


Myth-Busting: The Good Cancer. We’re Talking About Thyroid Cancer Part Two

Post Published: 30 March 2010
Category: Guest Bloggers, Myths About Thyroid Cancer
This post currently has 7 responses. Leave a comment

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 — 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 — 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 — 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

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7 Responses to “Myth-Busting: The Good Cancer. We’re Talking About Thyroid Cancer Part Two”

  1. Liz says:

    Thanks for enlightening us, HD! Good read!

  2. Another great article, HD! I agree with all the “goods” that you mentioned. I would personally add that thyroid cancer turned me into a better person, and that is also good.


  3. Dear Thyroid says:

    HD – Thanks for writing this second part. When you mentioned this last point You got rid of the cancer, but you still have a chronic disease!, I appreciated this. Simply because another misconception about thyroid cancer is that once the cancer is gone, you’re ‘fine’. The bottom line is, aside from having cancer, you’re not ‘fine’; you have to deal with a disease ON TOP of cancer.

    Great read. Thanks for enlightening us.

  4. Amber says:

    Great post! I would also like to mention that thyroid cancer has taught me to ‘live in the moment’ which us also good.

  5. Lori says:

    Wow, great read and VERY enlightening indeed.

    It does seem like it must feel like a double kick in the gut at first, having to go through the cancer treatment and then have the realization you now have to deal with a “chronic disease”, but you so nicely pointed out the good parts to all this, so Thank you, HD! I’ve certainly learned a lot from both articles.

    Very nice “Part II”!

  6. Fantastic part 2. It is important that in our race to erase the slamming kinda of “your so lucky to have the good kinda cancer comments” we don’t forget the parts of this disease that behave differently to other kinds of cancer and are sometimes in our benefit. This is an awesome two parter!


  7. HD inOregon says:

    Thank you all very much for the nice comments. I am glad you think my article was useful.


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