Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer, making up about 80% of all cases. Fortunately, it is very treatable, especially when caught early. This article provides a comprehensive overview of how papillary thyroid cancer is diagnosed and treated.
What is Papillary Thyroid Cancer
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism. Papillary thyroid cancer develops when cellular mutations cause abnormal cells to multiply in the follicles of the thyroid. These cancerous cells often spread to nearby lymph nodes in the neck.
Papillary thyroid cancer is typically slow-growing and has a good prognosis. The 5-year relative survival rate for localized papillary thyroid cancer is 99%, while the 10-year survival rate is 93%.
For better explanations read this – Papillary Thyroid Cancer
Non-Surgical Treatment for Papillary Thyroid Cancer: Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is commonly treated through surgical methods such as thyroidectomy. But, emerging non-surgical approaches offer viable alternatives, particularly for low-risk cases. One such approach gaining traction is Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA). RFA is a minimally invasive technique utilizing alternating electromagnetic current to generate molecular frictional heat, effectively targeting thyroid nodules, including PTC.
Thermal ablation techniques, including RFA, present a viable therapeutic option for low-risk PTC patients, providing an alternative to active surveillance and immediate surgery. Long-term follow-up studies have revealed promising outcomes, with no tumor progression observed in patients who underwent thermal ablation for PTMC. Importantly, the procedure is particularly beneficial for high-risk surgical candidates or those unwilling to pursue surgery, including individuals who have failed or are hesitant to undergo active surveillance.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of RFA in treating PTC and benign thyroid nodules. Notably, a groundbreaking study conducted in Ecuador showcased significant volume reductions in both benign thyroid nodules and Papillary Thyroid Microcarcinoma (PTMC) over various follow-up periods. Improvement in cosmetic and symptomatic scores post-treatment was evident, indicating not only reduction in nodule size but also alleviation of associated symptoms and cosmetic concerns. Additionally, RFA has been shown to be relatively safe, with minimal complications reported.
Recent studies, particularly from Asia, have underscored the efficacy of RFA in treating low-risk papillary thyroid microcarcinomas (mPTCs). Findings indicate a high rate of complete disappearance of tumor tissue on ultrasonography, coupled with low complication rates. Major complications, when they occur, tend to spontaneously resolve within three months post-treatment.
Read this Article: Microwave Ablation versus Surgery for Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
Follow-up Care After Treatment
Patients will require lifelong monitoring by an endocrinologist after papillary thyroid cancer treatment. Follow-up care typically includes:
- Physical exams every 6-12 months to check for recurrence
- Regular blood tests of thyroid hormone levels
- Periodic neck ultrasounds
- Monitoring and managing treatment side effects
Let your care team know if you experience concerning symptoms like a lump or swelling. Speak to them about any effects of treatment on your daily well-being.
Outlook for Papillary Thyroid Cancer
When detected early, papillary thyroid cancer is one of the most curable cancers. The prognosis is excellent, especially for patients younger than 55. However, follow-up care is still essential after treatment because cancer can recur. Discuss your individual prognosis with your medical team.
Surgically removing the thyroid gland, radioactive iodine therapy, thyroid hormone replacement, and active surveillance provide effective treatment for most papillary thyroid cancers when done in combination. Work closely with your cancer care team to determine the best treatment approach for your situation.