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Voicing the Fight

The Indian Express
31 October 2012

Located in the lower part of the neck, the thyroid gland plays an important role in the body by secreting hormones that regulate metabolism. But most people are unaware of the significance of this endocrine gland and therefore end up ignoring any warning signs that could indicate disease.Cancer is one of the diseases that affects the thyroid gland and lack of knowledge as well as understanding of its early symptoms delays detection and cure.

These days, a rise in the number of cases of thyroid cancer is seen due to both better technology and increased detection, and a growth in the disease’s incidence. The causes are not completely known but radiation exposure, family history, iodine deficiency and ovrweight could lead to an increased risk.

One of the widely curable cancers , thyroid cancer has a high survival rate if diagnosed early, Dr Shefali Gokhale, Consultant-Department of Nuclear Medicine, Inlaks and Budhrani Hospital says. The symptoms include lump in the neck, pain in the lower front part of the neck, swollen lymph nodes in the neck,hoarseness of voice and trouble in breathing and swallowing.

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There is very effective treatment – surgery and radioactive iodine therapy – to remove every ounce of the cancer from the body."As doctors, we constantly encourage patients to inform their physicians about any such changes in the body. Despite this, many cases come to us when the cancer has spread and this requires more aggressive treatment," says Dr Gokhale.

To destroy any cancer cells that have been left after surgery, radioactive iodine therapy is given to the patient. Only the thyroid cells absorb the radioactive iodine that is given in the form of a capsule or drink. This therapy is a very unique way of killing cancer and can be used only for thyroid cancer cells. There is little chance of thyroid cancer returning as all thyroid cells are destroyed. Any recurrence can again be effectively treated with radioactive iodine therapy.

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