A healthy lifestyle

The problem

In this globalization era, it is obviously crystal clear that the thyroid cancer is one of the alarming illness problems which we need to be alert of these days. The thyroid cancer causes a lot of bad implications towards the patient, since it is a very important in growing development. Healthy thyroid will produce a healthy lifestyle. Even though healthy lifestyle is difficult to obtain and maintain due to several factors; but we can still put efforts to prevent from sicknesses.

What is thyroid?

Thyroid gland produces the hormone that determines basal metabolic rate. Thyroid hormone determines how quickly your body uses oxygen and calories from food to produce the energy cells need to do their jobs. Too much thyroid hormone will speed up your metabolism and vice versa. In addition, the thyroid affects respiration, heart rate, mood, skin, hair and nails. For instance, during pregnancy, fetus receives thyroid hormone from the mother for development of the brain and nervous system.

How the thyroid works?

Thyroid function involves a complex interplay of several organs, various hormones, and the right nutrients. In fact, thyroid function is affected by two other major organs - the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The three organs form is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid gland. They provide a glimpse of your body's highly regulated system of checks and balances. The hypothalamus acts as an internal regulation system and produces neurohormones which link the nervous system to the endocrine system. The neurohormones that important to thyroid gland called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). If thyroid hormone levels are low, TRH will stimulate the pituitary gland to produce TSH. TSH, in turn, acts on the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. In addition, pituitary gland continues to monitor and assess the amount of hormone in the blood.

What is thyroid cancer?

Nowadays, everyone lives in fear of the C word - cancer - a disease that has wreaked havoc on millions of lives. However, most people who have thyroid cancer are successfully treated and live long, productive lives. Thyroid cancer is actually the growth of abnormal cells due to the damage of the DNA which do not die out but multiply. Fortunately, these cells grow relatively slowly. The damaged DNA cannot repair itself, and the abnormal cells grow, often causing a malignant, or cancerous, tumor. Besides that, factors that can trigger the risk of getting thyroid cancer are exposure to radiation from nuclear fallout, family history, and thyroid cancer is more prevalent to women than it is in men. According to estimated predictions of American Cancer Society, approximately 25,690 cases of thyroid cancer were expected in 2005. Of those, 19,190 were expected to occur in women, and 1,490 were expected to eventually be fatal. In other words, only one of sixteen cases of thyroid cancer leads to death due to the cancer.

What are the symptoms?

Thyroid disease doesn't always have signs. However, when it does, those who have symptoms directly related to their thyroid may notice a lump of their throat appear to be getting larger, hoarseness in their voices or a pain in their neck. They also experiences difficulty swallowing or have trouble breathing easily. In others, thyroid cancer may cause a constant cough that doesn't go away. Nevertheless, their skin become drier than usual, feel more fatigued than normal, feel anxious, uneasy and irritable.

Treatment for thyroid cancer

Although having cancer can be frightening to everyone, most cases of thyroid cancer are readily treated with surgery as a primary treatment. Nowadays, the treatment offers in most hospitals throughout the world is surgery. Besides the conventional treatment, there are also some complementary treatments such as iodine supplement, yoga, biofeedback, herbs and meditation. Although all of it just complementary treatment, we still need the advises from physician before undergo those treatment. Surgery actually is the process to remove out the cancerous cells out of the infected areas. It is considered as major surgery. But the amount of surgery that is performed depends on the type of cancer. If the cancerous nodule is small and confined to one lobe, just one lobe may remove (lobectomy). If the tumor is large and has spread to both lobes, the entire thyroid will be removed (total thyroidectomy). However, in order to avoid damaging the parathyroid gland and nerves, the surgeon removes most of the thyroid but leaves some tissue around parathyroid glands and the important nerves. Thyroid surgery for cancer usually takes about two hours and requires a hospital stay of three to seven days. Surgery is considered for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Benefits and risks

After surgery, most people are successfully treated and do not die of thyroid cancer. Your ability to return to routine activities after surgery will depend on your level of discomfort. The one of prohibition is swimming, which you cannot do until the incision is fully healed. Most patients can return to work within two weeks, and go back to leisure activities within a week. Nevertheless, you may notice some pain in your neck and some pain when swallowing. You may also experience temporary or permanent hoarseness, excessive bleeding or infection of the wound, and numbness or tingling. There is also potential damage to the vocal cords which affect voice and to the parathyroid gland, which can lower blood-calcium levels and result in muscle spasms.

Alternative solution for thyroid cancer

For thyroid cancer treatment, much higher doses of RAI are required. A typical tracer dose of RAI is 2 to 5 millicuries; a typical treatment dose of RAI for thyroid cancer ranges from 100 to 200 millicuries. The amount given depends on the aggressiveness of thyroid cancer, its ability to take up iodine and how much cancer was removed during surgery. In most people, surgery is supplemented with RAI therapy. RAI uses a stronger radioactive isotope, namely iodine-131. RAI is used to destroy any lingering thyroid tissue that was not removed by the treatment, surgery or to cure thyroid cancer that has broadened to other parts of body. After you receive a treatment dose of radioactive iodine, there's enough radioactivity coming off your body, in the form of radioactive iodine in your sweat and saliva as well as X-ray energy, to be a potential source of exposure to others. However, most of it gets excreted through urine. Therefore, you may require to be kept in an isolation room so that your radioactivity does not harm other people including the hospital staff. You may notice tenderness in your neck, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and dry mouth. Some women may notice that their periods become irregular, and men who receive large doses may be at risk for infertility. Women are advised not to get pregnant for six months to a year.

The graph shows that the time for different percentage of iodine-131 to decay in days for patient who undergo RAI therapy.

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