This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on thyroid cancer:
Part 1 – [You Are Here] – 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Treat Thyroid Cancer (There’s Another Option)
Part 2 – How to Prevent Thyroid Cancer (and Its Reoccurrence) by Suppressing This One Hormone (coming soon…)
Thyroid cancer is scary, right?
In fact, two things most newly diagnosed cancer patients thinks about is how they can get rid of it, and how soon.
Yet, is treating cancer always the best solution?
Well, you might be surprised at what I’m about to show you.
Of course, prevention is always the best route to take, but for many, that ship has already sailed.
If that’s the case, it’s best to understand all of your options.
Not all cancer diagnoses are a sign of certain death.
In fact, there are certain types of cancer where treatment is unwarranted.
Take prostate cancer for example. With most prostate cancer, there’s no risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body.
The life expectancy of treated vs. untreated prostate cancer is almost negligible. The vast majority of men with prostate cancer die from other causes unrelated to their cancer.
In fact, for many, the potential risk of life-altering side-effects from prostate surgery (impotence, incontinence, etc.) far outweighs any potential benefit.
Well, the same can go for thyroid cancer treatment.
3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Treat Thyroid Cancer
Please keep in mind the following…
This discussion pertains to the most common form of thyroid cancer, papillary thyroid cancer, and when there is no concern of metastasis (spreading).
I’ve had clients who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and those who had already undergone thyroid cancer treatment.
(NOTE: Want to learn how to improve your thyroid health after radio-active iodine (RAI) treatment or thyroidectomy? Take a look at this article on “How to Fix Your Thyroid Health Without Your Thyroid”.)
I’m in no way recommending that you shouldn’t undergo thyroid cancer treatment.
As I tell my clients, that’s a personal decision that you must make yourself.
I simply want to give you the facts, so you can make an informed decision, which most thyroid cancer patients never get the chance to do.
Of course, always discuss this with your doctor.
Here are the three reasons you should always take into account.
Reason 1: Thyroid Cancer Is Common and Often Harmless
Thyroid cancer rates have been on the rise.
Not because more people are developing thyroid cancer.
It’s because more people than ever are being screened today. And the detection technologies used are now able to detect cancer that was previously undetectable.
Thyroid tumors are actually very common.
Several studies and reports have shown that thyroid cancer is commonly discovered during autopsies, and are unrelated to the cause of death.
Some studies report that thyroid cancer could be detectible in just about everyone, if they were able to look close enough and at the right time.
The truth is, like many cancers, thyroid cancer can spontaneously develop and disappear on its own. Your body is designed to fight cancer cells and often wins.
Unfortunately, we only think about the worse cases of cancer, when the body is already losing the battle.
Today, thyroid cancer rates have increased because we’re able to detect smaller and smaller thyroid tumors.
But, if left untreated (or treated without destroying or removing the thyroid gland), how many of these tumors would resolve on their own?
Many experts say that it happens much more than you might think.
So, what’s the big rush to undergo surgical thyroid cancer treatment?
Survivability rates are great either way…
Reason 2: Thyroid Cancer Survival Rates Are Great
Not all cancers are created equal.
Some types of cancer are more or less a death sentence.
Thyroid cancer is NOT one of them.
Your risk of dying from thyroid cancer is quite low.
One research study showed that survival rates among those who underwent thyroid cancer treatment were NOT significantly different from those who went untreated. The difference was a mere 2%.
Thyroid cancer survival in the United States: observational data from 1973 to 2005.
“Conclusion: Papillary thyroid cancers of any size that are limited to the thyroid gland (no extraglandular extension or lymph node metastases at presentation) have favorable outcomes whether or not they are treated in the first year after diagnosis and whether they are treated by hemithyroidectomy or total thyroidectomy.”
What’s more shocking is that of the tens of thousands of recorded cases, only 1.2% didn’t receive immediate thyroid cancer treatment after diagnosis.
If survival rates are relatively the same…
…again, what’s the big rush to undergo surgical thyroid treatment?
Yet, here’s something that most fail to take into account…
Reason 3: The Thyroid Cancer Treatment Risk May Not Be Worth the Reward
Thyroid cancer treatment isn’t a walk in the park.
Anytime you undergo surgery, it’s a serious stress to your body (and your thyroid health).
Radio-active Iodine treatment is stressful too.
Yet, that’s not the only risk you run.
Things can go wrong during surgery.
Some studies report a 3% to 5% risk of permanent hypo-parathyroidism and/or permanent damage to your voice box.
These are life-altering risks. Hypo-parathyroidism is a serious health issue.
Are you willing to trade a 3% to 5% risk of these potentially life-altering complications for a mere 2% difference in survival rate?
Things can also go wrong after surgery.
I’ve worked with many clients who have undergone thyroid cancer treatment, and almost all are improperly treated afterwards.
Anytime you destroy or remove part or all of the thyroid gland, you have no choice but to supplement thyroid hormone to the degree that you can no longer produce it.
Unfortunately, doctors are quick to prescribe T4-only thyroid medications that don’t match what you’re thyroid gland naturally produces.
So, those who are treated often become more hypothyroid and develop more severe symptoms.
You have to also consider the risks and the potential for changes in your quality of life.
All three of these reasons are important factors to discuss with your doctor.
Yes, in certain cases surgery is very warranted and important.
But the reality is that in most cases immediate surgery is unnecessary.
What’s Your Other Option?
There is little to no evidence that supports immediate thyroid cancer treatment in the majority of cases.
Monitoring and observation is a valid option.
During this time, alternative methods can and should be tried to improve the thyroid gland.
For example, keeping your TSH very low has been shown to be protective of the thyroid gland, which can be achieved by simply supplementing thyroid hormone properly.
Desiccated thyroid or a combination of T4/T3 in the proper ratios should be used.
If you, or someone you know, have already undergone thyroid cancer treatment, you can still regulate your thyroid function.
You can still live a perfectly healthy life.
I cover this in more detail in the following article: How to Fix Your Thyroid Health Without Your Thyroid