Thyroid Cancer’s Connection to Hypothyroidism
If you or someone you know has just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, you are not alone. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 44,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed each year. Although receiving a diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be frightening, the good news is that most forms of thyroid cancer have a very high treatment success rate, especially when found and treated early. The five year survival rate for thyroid cancer is over 97%.1 This resource center will provide you with information regarding thyroid cancer and hypothyroidism during thyroid cancer treatment.
Role of the Thyroid
Your thyroid is part of a complex communication system. Your hypothalamus, pituitary and thyroid constantly exchange information and control hormones necessary to regulate and maintain your body’s metabolism.
Normal Production of Thyroid Hormones
Watch it at Work
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- The hypothalamus releases Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone (TRH)
- TRH stimulates the pituitary gland to release Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
- TSH acts on the thyroid to take in iodine and produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which then circulate through the blood to all organs. TSH is the messenger that tells the thyroid gland to increase or decrease thyroid production.
- If your thyroid hormone is low, the pituitary gland releases TSH. TSH sends a signal to your thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormone.
- If your thyroid hormone is high, the pituitary gland decreases TSH production.
What is thyroid cancer?
Thyroid cancer is a malignant growth or tumor in the thyroid gland. Thyroid cancer occurs in both men and women and can occur at any age. Not all thyroid cancers are the same. There are four main types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary and follicular cancers, often referred to as “well-differentiated” thyroid cancers (WDTC), are the most common.
The prognosis for any given thyroid cancer patient depends on several factors, including the type of thyroid cancer, whether the disease has spread to other parts of the body, and the patient’s age at diagnosis. Early and aggressive treatment as well as commitment to long-term monitoring is essential to achieve the best outcome.
Thyroid Cancer Treatment Pathway
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism occurs when a person’s thyroid gland is underactive and not producing enough thyroid hormone. In thyroid cancer patients, hypothyroidism occurs after the thyroid gland has been removed or when you stop taking your thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Some people may experience only minor symptoms, but some may experience more severe symptoms.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include the following:
- Weight Gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cold Intolerance
- Dry Skin and Hair
- Puffy face and eyes
- Worsening of cardiovascular conditions
- Menstrual irregularities
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty driving vehicles and operation machinery