Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common but the most treatable of all thyroid cancers. In fact, it comprises about 70% of all diagnosed thyroid cancer cases. In the United States alone, at least 10,000 new cases of papillary thyroid cancer are diagnosed each year.
Most patients develop this type of cancer before reaching age 40 but the peak onset ages are 30 to 50. Although there is no definite scientific explanation yet, statistics show that it is also more common in females than males by 3 to 1 ratio. Around 85% of all the cases is said to be caused by radiation exposure. Most of the people diagnosed with this cancer do not even know that they have it. The thyroid is a small organ in the neck that we can barely feel through our skin. Often, so are the nodules. They only learn they have the disease when the doctor notices a lump in the neck. Most of the time, the patients notice no other symptoms.
Papillary thyroid cancer is usually treated with surgery. The procedure has been the subject of considerable controversy. Surgeons have differing opinions regarding the amount of tissue to be removed from a patient. Some specialists assert that if the malign tumor is small and does not affect the other tissues, then only the affected lobe of the thyroid should be removed. The procedure is called a “lobectomy.” They claim that removing entire thyroid (or thyroidectomy) rather than only the lobe harboring the tumor proves to be more dangerous because of the increased risk of hypoparathyroidism and recurrent nerve injury in the larynx.
After the surgery, patients are required to undergo hormone treatment for the rest of his life to replace the natural hormones that the thyroid gland produces now that it has been removed from the body. A follow up is also necessary to check for recurrence of cancer cells.
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