100% cure from thyroid cancer possible

Despite slow tendency for mets, early diagnosis still essential

Although cancer of any type is always bad news for the one afflicted with it, thyroid cancer is not that bad. Papillary thyroid cancer, which is the most common type of thyroid cancer, is curable; and the chances of survival from thyroid cancer are at 100 percent, according to an endocrinologist.

During Dr. Patricia Maningat’s lecture entitled, “Thyroid Cancer: Treatment and Diagnosis” held last month at the Dietary Function of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital. She said that aside from being the most common at 80 percent, papillary thyroid cancer grows slowly and spreads to the neck lymph nodes before spreading elsewhere.

“If papillary is detected early, there is a big chance of 100 percent survival,” assured Dr. Maningat.

Dr. Maningat also did a rundown of the other types of thyroid cancers such as follicular thyroid cancer (10-15 percent) which spreads via the blood route and can spread to the lungs and bones; medullary thyroid cancer, and anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is rare but is the most severe of all thyroid cancers.

In her presentation, Dr. Maningat showed that all types of thyroid cancer have a big chance of survival except anaplastic, which may already be stage IV at diagnosis. Screening she said is important so treatments can be done immediately.

She also explained that when one feels a lump in the throat, he/she should immediately consult a doctor so a biopsy can be done. If the biopsy confirms a thyroid cancer, radical neck surgery may follow, then radioactive iodine treatment. A post-body scan is done to check for metastatic tissues.

Although radioactive iodine therapy is required after operation, it may depend on the case of the patient; and the specialist evaluates the patient carefully to determine if RAI is needed, and what dose would be optimal for the patient, explained Dr. Nemencio Nicodemus during the question and answer portion.

When asked about the current drug being tested for thyroid cancer in the United States, Dr. Nicodemus said that the results have yet to be confirmed if it works or not. They have, in fact, tried to include a patient from the Philippines in the study, but were not accommodated.

He also clarified that thyroid cancer patients can still eat regular food, but must be cautious of sweets and fatty food for those with hypertension and diabetes.

“When it comes to food supplement, there are no studies of food supplement for sicknesses like diabetes and thyroid cancer,” he said, adding that patients should use supplements that were studied by experts.

Both Drs. Nicodemus and Maningat also said that chemotherapy has temporary effect of low calcium for six months in patients after the operation, thus the need for calcium supplements.

Drs. Maningat and Nicodemus were two of the speakers in the thyroid cancer summit’s “Back to School: Let’s Study Thyroid Bukol” organized by the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Alexa Villano

VitalSigns Issue 60 Vol. 3, February 1-28, 2014