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Thyroid Cancer

            The word cancer has earned itself the connotation of fear and death. This is true for many types of cancer, but thyroid cancer often has a different story. Because it is usually curable with surgery, causes little pain and has effective means of diagnosis and treatment, it is often termed "the cancer to get" (American Thyroid Association). This is because it is one of the most curable cancers. There exist two main types of ablation treatment, and both have been proven effective in treating and eliminating the disease. The most widely accepted technique is to administer a uniform dose to all patients who fit a certain criteria. The second technique is to perform an I-131 dosimetry to determine the maximum safe dose for each individual patient. Dosimetry is complex, but it allows healthcare providers to safely increase the dose past the usual levels in order to treat the individual case and ablate the cancerous tissue.
             Thyroid cancers are approached through a systematic method of diagnosis and treatment. These parameters vary according to the different types of thyroid cancer, but monitoring the disease after treatment is uniform. Since the thyroid tissue is cancerous the patient will usually have a thyroidectomy followed by I-131 ablation therapy. This will hopefully destroy all cancerous thyroid tissue in the body. After the treatment, the patient is monitored measurement of the patient's thyroglobulin blood levels and I-131 whole body scans. These two techniques, used together, are very successful in supervising the cancer post-treatment.
             Problems can arise when this system does not work for certain patients, so a system of doublechecking has been developed. The whole body scans can cause a problem with monitoring the progress of the disease, because occasionally they can be falsely negative. Prior to the scan, the patient is given anywhere from 1 to 5 mCi of I-131. This is a low enough dose that the normal areas of iodine uptake will appear in the scan, but metastatic disease does not.

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