From there, doctors confirmed that two nodules were beginning to form in her thyroid gland. The next test she had to go through was a fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB). This test determines whether the nodule is benign or malignant. The FNAB can produce one of four outcomes:
In Grace’s case, the test revealed a malignant result of papillary carcinoma. It was only at that time that she found out about it. But her doctor assured her, saying that it is one of the “friendliest” types of cancer. Unlike other types, this particular type of cancer is not aggressive as it spread as much.
The good thing about papillary carcinoma is that it has the best prognosis of any type of thyroid cancer. Oftentimes, patients with this type of cancer can be cured if they are treated properly and promptly. At the time of diagnosis, approximately 20% of patients may have lymph nodes.
How Was Grace Treated for Papillary Carcinoma?
The treatment took place as soon as the laboratory confirmed that samples showed the development of cancer. The first line of treatment, surgery — thyroidectomy, in particular — aided the removal of the thyroid. In such surgeries, if the lump is bigger, then a bigger portion of the thyroid gland will be removed.
Following the surgery, Grace was also given radioactive iodine therapy. This type of treatment entails swallowing a radioactive substance that travels through the bloodstream to kill the remaining cancer cells. Moreover, it also assists in detecting residual thyroid cancer, allowing doctors to see if any cancer is left behind or if it returns later.
With radioactive iodine therapy, everything became “metallic” for Grace — food tasted like metal, and she also had a hard time moving her whole body as it felt metallic as well. When she looked it up online, her searches stated that after two weeks, things would start to feel normal again. However, this wasn’t the same case for her. So she asked her doctor about it.
Dr. Joe Ryan Agga responded, “Grace, iba-iba ang katawan ng tao, and you have to forgive yourself for not recovering quickly because ‘yung katawan mo, dumaan naman sa giyera. Hindi naman simple ‘yung pinagdaanan mo na total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine. So, you will heal according to the timeline that your body feels like.”
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