How Is Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Diagnosed?
The most noticeable symptom of anaplastic thyroid cancer is the formation of hard, large lumps around the neck. The patient may notice these lumps themselves, or a doctor may detect these lumps during a routine check-up. Patients are then referred to a thyroid specialist who can perform tests to screen for anaplastic cancer. Blood tests, ultrasounds, CT scans, PET scans, and fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies may be recommended when diagnosing your condition.
Will A Biopsy Determine My Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer?
A biopsy can determine if your growth is cancerous. During this procedure, a very small needle is inserted into the suspicious growth and a small sample is removed. This sample is then sent to a pathologist to determine if your growth is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). If your tumor is cancerous, the biopsy can also determine which type of thyroid cancer is present.
What Are Some Common Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Treatments?
The most common treatment for anaplastic thyroid cancer is thyroid surgery. However, this is usually reserved for earlier stages. Advanced stages may be inoperable depending on the patient. External beam radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy may be combined with surgery to halt the spread of anaplastic thyroid cancer.
|ANAPLASTIC THYROID CANCER TREATMENTS
|Anaplastic cancer surgery focuses on removing all traces of cancer from the thyroid. This means removing all of the thyroid gland, as well as any affected lymph nodes.
|External Beam Therapy
|External beam therapy uses radiation to destroy cancerous cells. Radiation may be used in conjunction with thyroid surgery to stop cancer from spreading. During this procedure, the patient lies down while controlled waves of radiation are directed to the area where cancer is present.
|Chemotherapy may also be used with thyroid cancer surgery and external beam therapy to slow the growth of anaplastic cancer. Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer medications to attack cancer cells. Chemo medicines are given orally or through an injection.
|Targeted therapy is another type of anti-cancer treatment. These medicines are taken orally and can stop cancer cells by manipulating their proteins and genes. Targeted therapy is best used in conjunction with other anaplastic cancer treatments.
|Patients who have had anaplastic thyroid cancer surgery require thyroid medication to help maintain proper hormone levels. Different thyroid medicines are available to increase or decrease hormone levels, depending on the needs of the patient.
What Can I Expect Following Anaplastic Cancer Surgery?
Anaplastic cancer surgery requires a 1-2 night stay at the hospital before being discharged. Patients may have difficulty swallowing following surgery, so a liquid diet may be recommended for a few days. Vigorous exercise and physical activities should be avoided until permitted by our thyroid surgeon. Patients may be prescribed calcium supplements to prevent hypocalcemia (low calcium levels in the blood). Dr. Shin can discuss your recovery, downtime, and guidelines in more detail with you during your consultation for anaplastic thyroid cancer surgery.