Papillary carcinoma of thyroid is one of the four types of thyroid cancers. This cancer accounts for 80% of all thyroid cancer. Other rare cancers of the thyroid include medullary, follicular and anaplastic.
Women are more likely to develop papillary thyroid cancer than men In most cases women in between the ages of 30-50 present with a neck mass and usually have no symptoms. The mass is often discovered during showering or observed closely on a mirror while dressing. In neglected cases some individuals may present with hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, neck pain, difficulty breathing or a change in the voice.
Risk factors for papillary serous carcinoma include:
Prior radiation exposure which may have been administered for acne
Family history of thyroid cancer
History of goiter
Living close to nuclear power plant facilities
Papillary serous carcinoma has a very low death rate as it does not spread aggressively. In most cases the mass remains confined to the neck and is easily cured with surgery.
The diagnosis of papillary thyroid carcinoma is made by a biopsy performed in the doctor’s office. This may involve placing a fine needle under local anesthesia and looking at the cells under a microscope. In most cases, there is no deficiency of thyroid hormones. Other tests to confirm diagnosis of papillary cancer include an ultrasound or a nuclear scan. A CT scan of the neck is sometimes done to ensure that there has been no spread. Once the diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer is confirmed the patient is referred to a surgeon.
The treatment of papillary thyroid carcinoma is surgery. There are no medications that can be used to treat this cancer. If the tumor is small only partial removal of the thyroid gland is done. If the tumor is large the entire thyroid gland is removed. Thyroid surgery is well established and the results are excellent. However, two complications of thyroid surgery include bleeding that may occur soon after surgery and damage to the nerves that supply the voice box. If one nerve is damaged this is of minor consequence. Damage to both nerves can be devastating and thus it is vital that one select a decent surgeon. The recovery after surgery is rapid and there is minimal pain.
After surgery if there is suspicion that tumor is left behind, one may also receive radioactive iodine to destroy rest of the tumor. After thyroid surgery most patients need to take thyroid supplements life long. Most people tend to live a normal life after thyroid surgery with no untoward consequences.
Follow up is essential to ensure that there are no recurrences of papillary carcinoma of thyroid.