Avoiding the Risks and Side Effects of Traditional Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Cancer can affect virtually every part of the human body, and some cancers are more difficult to identify and treat than others. Thyroid cancers affect the thyroid gland in the throat and often require a combination of medications, radioactive iodine therapy, and surgery.
Overcoming any type of cancer isn’t easy, and recovery can entail a wide array of treatments, medications and therapies. Innovations in thyroid cancer treatment may provide thyroid cancer patients with a higher chance of successfully overcoming cancer while managing their symptoms more effectively.
Surgical Options and Difficulties
Most doctors will turn to surgical solutions for thyroid cancer. During thyroid cancer surgery, the surgeon will remove the cancerous tissue from the thyroid through an incision in the neck. Some patients worry about the large scar this operation leaves, and new surgical techniques can offer positive results with less visible scarring.
Instead of a large incision in the neck leaving a large scar, some surgeons now use endoscopic instruments that leave minimal scarring. These long, thin instruments only require very small incisions in the neck.
Thanks to new advancements in medical robotics, some surgeons now use robotic instruments operated with a control panel to enter the patient’s body under the arm, allowing easy access to the affected area of a thyroid while leaving an almost invisible scar.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy and Chemotherapy
Some patients may require radioactive iodine therapy as either a substitute for surgery or as a follow-up treatment. Radioactive iodine helps eliminate reemerging thyroid cancer that appears after surgery, instead of putting the patient through a second round of surgery, but not all patients’ cancers respond to radioactive iodine treatment.
Cells that contain the BRAF gene do not respond well to radioactive iodine therapy, and patients with these cancerous cells may require a different approach, but new thyroid cancer medications may offer relief.
Genetic Problems with Radioactive Iodine Therapy
Drugs that target BRAF gene pathways may allow patients who were previously unresponsive to radioactive iodine therapy to find relief with this treatment. By targeting the BRAF pathways, these medications allow the thyroid cancer to absorb the radioactive iodine more effectively, leading to better results. If a patient no longer responds to radioactive iodine therapy, these new BRAF pathway medications may be a viable solution.
Some researchers are finding chemotherapy drugs like paclitaxel effective in treating thyroid cancer. When used in tandem with radioactive iodine therapy and surgery, these thyroid cancer medications are quite effective.
However, thyroid cancers, in general, have not responded well to chemotherapy options in the past. New targeted treatments may provide a more effective chemotherapy treatment for thyroid cancer sufferers by targeting specific types of cells. For example, targeted chemotherapy medications that attack rapidly growing cells will start to attack thyroid cancer cells, which grow rapidly.
One type of targeted therapy involves the use of kinase inhibitors. These inhibitors are especially effective for patients with certain cancer cell genetic mutations, including the BRAF gene pathway and RET/PTC. These medications allow a patient with these genetic mutations to respond to the radioactive iodine therapy.
Some of the kinase inhibitors found effective in treating patients with cancer cell mutations include:
As tumors grow, they require more blood flow. Thyroid cancer and other types of cancer can actually cause new blood vessels to start growing that provide additional blood flow. This process of growing new blood vessels, called angiogenesis, is very dangerous if left unchecked.
Some of the previously mentioned drugs – including axitinib, motesanib, sunitinib and sorafenib – contain anti-angiogenetic properties that prevent tumors from obtaining additional blood flow and help curb the progress of tumor growth.
Early Detection Techniques
One of the most critical factors in treating any type of cancer is time. The earlier a cancer is detected and identified, the better the patient’s chances are for effective treatment. The chance of a thyroid cancer diagnosis has increased recently in the United States, due to more advanced detection methods.
Thyroid cancer detection rates have increased recently thanks to the improvement of thyroid ultrasound technology. This technology allows doctors to identify the telltale nodules in the thyroid that indicate cancer cell growth. Thyroid ultrasound has also allowed doctors to more easily identify and observe very small micro-papillary thyroid cancers.
Advanced Thyroid Cancer Medications
Researchers have identified a new drug called lenvatinib that is capable of preventing thyroid cells from becoming cancerous. Roughly 15 percent of thyroid cancer patients have forms of thyroid cancer that do not respond to radioactive iodine therapy, and this new medication may provide a solution.
Lenvatinib can provide up to 15 months of a better quality of life, and two-thirds of patients saw tumor shrinkage, resulting in less severe symptoms. This targeted therapy blocks pathways that allow thyroid cancer cells to grow.
Issues with Thyroid Cancer Medications
One of the problems with some of the newer thyroid cancer medications is delivery. Since the thyroid is in the throat, thyroid cancer patients with enlarged tumors often experience difficulty eating and taking medications in pill form. Medications in liquid form can provide relief in these situations.
However, not all patients have easy access to prescription drugs in liquid form, so compounding services like the ones offered by The Compounding Pharmacy of America are valuable to these patients.
How Can Compounding Help?
The Compounding Pharmacy of America helps patients who have specific drug sensitivities or other medical issues that complicate typical drug delivery methods. Thyroid cancer, in particular, can lead to problems with swallowing pills, so liquid medications are valuable for patients with this problem.
The Compounding Pharmacy of America does not provide the medications made to directly treat thyroid cancer, but it does offer compounded medications that can offer relief from the unpleasant symptoms of thyroid cancer and the side effects of typical treatments.
Patients who contact The Compounding Pharmacy of America can count on close contact with compounding professionals to have their medications custom-made in the most effective form. Liquid medications are valuable to thyroid cancer patients who may have difficulty swallowing pills. Compounded medications are also valuable to patients who require non-standard doses or particular combinations of ingredients to avoid drug sensitivities, allergies and other complications.
Thyroid cancer patients can turn to The Compounding Pharmacy of America for custom-tailored medications to more effectively manage the symptoms of thyroid cancer and treatment.
Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America
Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding.
He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.