The endocrine system is comprised of a number of glands that secrete hormones to regulate a number of bodily processes, including growth and development, mood, and metabolism. Because of the important role of the endocrine system in the body, being diagnosed with endocrine cancer is scary for patients.
Thyroid cancer is typically first indicated by a non-painful lump on the neck. Patients could also experience hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, throat pain, and breathing problems. Endocrine cancers may also mimic other illnesses, which means that doctors must perform a battery of tests to rule out other conditions.
If you have been diagnosed with endocrine cancer, you may be wondering what to do next. Thankfully, medicine has a number of options that can treat endocrine cancer. Once you receive your diagnosis, it’s important to know your options that will help increase your chances for survival. Once you’ve been diagnosed, your physician and oncologist will develop a treatment plan that likely includes a number of options to most effectively treat the cancer.
Advances in the treatment of endocrine cancer have dramatically improved the quality of life and life expectancy for patients. Surgery is the most common option for treating endocrine cancers. In the procedure, surgeons remove the cancerous gland (most commonly the thyroid) and a “margin” of healthy tissue around it. Sometimes, nearby lymph nodes will also need to be removed to ensure that all cancerous cells have been eliminated.
If the tumor or gland cannot be removed completely, surgeons attempt to “debulk” the tumor, and safely remove as much of the mass as possible. The remaining cancerous tissue can be treated through radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. If the entirety of the tumor is removed, further treatment may not be necessary, though the nearby tissue will need to be monitored closely by an oncologist.
Early detection of endocrine cancer is key in treating it, which means that it’s important for patients to know the symptoms and their own personal history of the cancer. If the surgery can catch the illness early, the likelihood is higher that all (or most) cancerous cells can be removed.
If you have been diagnosed with endocrine cancer, it’s important to know that there are treatment options that have been successful in many patients. A team of doctors can help you develop an appropriate treatment plan that can increase your chances of beating the disease.