What is thyroid cancer?
An abnormal growth of the cells of the thyroid gland is referred to as thyroid cancer. The thyroid gland produces a few hormones that regulate the normal growth of the individuals, functioning of the heart, blood pressure, normal body temperature, fertility, weight and many other processes occurring in our body.
Risk factors for thyroid cancer
The exact cause for the occurrence of thyroid cancer is not known. However, several factors have been noted to increase the risk of occurrence of thyroid cancers. Radiation therapy of the neck is the most common risk factor associated with a high incidence of thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer is noted to run in the families wherein the risk of you developing thyroid cancer increases if any of your family member has thyroid cancer. In some instances long-term thyroid disorders such as goiter may increase the risk of thyroid cancer.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer may not be associated with any major signs and symptoms during the initial stages. As the cancer progresses, symptoms such as hoarseness of voice, feeling of a lump in the throat, cough, difficulty in swallowing, swelling in the neck and formation of lumps in the thyroid gland may be noted in varying severity. Numerous other symptoms based on the severity and stages of thyroid cancer are also noted.
Physical examination, blood tests to detect thyroid hormone levels, specialized thyroid scans and biopsy are some of the diagnostic methods of detecting the presence of thyroid cancer.
Conventional treatment options
The treatment option is chosen based on several factors such as age of the affected individual, severity of thyroid cancer, involvement of adjacent structures, and presence of other disorders. These treatment options are quite beneficial in early stages of thyroid cancer wherein the entire cancerous tissue can be cleared successful. However, as the cancer progresses, the prognosis tends to become poor.
Surgery is the most common method used to treat thyroid cancer. During the surgical procedure, the surgeons may remove only the affected portions of the thyroid gland in mild cases of thyroid cancer which are in the initial stages of development. In case of later stages, the entire thyroid gland and also the adjacent structures may have to be removed.
Radiation therapy may either be used as an adjuvant therapy along with surgery or may be used as a separate treatment procedure. This involves controlled exposure of the thyroid gland to radiation sources that emit x-rays or other rays that kill the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy which involves the administration of anti-cancer drugs is also used as treatment modality in certain cases.
Thyroid hormone supplements
Following any of these treatment methods you may need to take thyroid hormone supplements to compensate the absence of natural thyroid hormones. The quality of life of individuals affected with thyroid cancer is based on the severity of the cancer and response of the cancer cells and the body as a whole to cancer therapy. While some cases of thyroid cancers are fatal other cases may be associated with complete cure, normal life expectancy and improved health conditions.
Alternative therapy for thyroid cancer
Various types of complementary and alternative medicine approaches are available for individuals suffering from thyroid cancer. Although these methods may not be useful in curing thyroid cancer, some of them have been able to prevent the occurrence of thyroid cancers while others are able to provide symptomatic relief. The severity of the symptoms of thyroid cancer and other adverse effects of the treatment procedures are generally reduced with the use of these alternative therapies.
Controlled Amino Acid Therapy (CAAT)
Controlled Amino Acid Therapy (CAAT) is one such alternative thyroid cancer therapy that promises both prevention and cure from thyroid cancer. This therapy involves administration of amino acid supplements, diet modifications and administration of nutritional supplements. This therapy tries to combine the protective effects of various nutritional and herbal substances. Different types of fruits, herbal supplements and nutritional supplements are to be taken in a prescribed manner under this therapy.
Mind-body medicine practitioners believe that mind has the control over the body and a healthy mind can resolve many issues of the unhealthy body. This therapy involves practicing various relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis, music, art and others. This is helpful in relaxing the mind and instills a positive attitude towards health and life in the individuals affected with thyroid cancer.
Numerous supplements have been tested across various studies in the treatment of thyroid cancer. Although there are not many studies supporting the cure of thyroid cancer, several studies have shown that these supplements may prevent the occurrence of thyroid cancer to a certain extent.
Further studies are required to substantiate these claims. Some of the nutritional supplements that are advised include: parsley, green tea extract, anti-oxidants, whey protein, calcium D-glucurate, licorice root extract and others. These supplements are believed to restrict the growth of cancer cells and improve the body response to conventional treatment methods. Furthermore they are also believed to improve the general health of the individuals with thyroid cancer.
Physical therapies such as massage therapies, chiropractic care and reflexology utilize certain physical methods to reduce pain and other associated symptoms of thyroid cancer. These may offer symptomatic relief to individuals suffering from thyroid cancer.
The followers of energy medicine claim that our body is composed of energy fields that are altered during disease. Correction of these altered energy fields is believed to provide relief from numerous disorders. Tai Chi, Reiki and therapeutic touch are some of the alternative therapeutic approaches that may provide relief from the symptoms associated with thyroid cancer.
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Natural remedies through ayurveda, homeopathy and naturopathy are being offered in the treatment of various disorders. Chinese medicine is also used in certain instances. Acupuncture, acupressure and numerous such modalities are available as alternative thyroid cancer treatment options.
These alternative approaches for thyroid cancer may be useful in treating the symptoms associated with thyroid cancer. They may also boost the confidence of individuals suffering from thyroid cancer and hence help them to lead a much relaxed life. The beneficial effects of these therapies in curing thyroid cancer has to substantiated with much wider scientific studies before being used as therapeutic alternatives to cure thyroid cancer.