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Thyroid Cancer: Practical Guidelines for Coping after Treatment

Most individuals with thyroid cancer can be treated through the surgical removal of the diseased gland. The procedure is meant to eliminate the cancerous cells in the thyroid and prevent the spread of the problem. In some cases, surgical removal of the gland might not resolve the condition. Therefore, the procedure is combined with radioactive iodine treatment for the elimination of the remaining cancerous cells. Unfortunately, both the thyroidectomy and the radioactive iodine can bring about some side effects. Here are some simple guidelines to help you cope with the aftermath of thyroid cancer treatment.

Manage Your Pain

The thyroid surgery will involve the removal of the whole thyroid or part of the gland. Therefore, you should expect some pain and soreness following the procedure. The aching and discomfort can compromise your quality of life. Therefore, you should use your prescribed pain medication to avoid extreme pain. The pain should alleviate as the surgical area heals. It is advisable for you to protect the incision around your neck after the surgery. Contact and pressure can aggravate the wound and increase your discomfort.

Control Your Activities

You should make time to rest following your surgical procedure. Excess strain can slow down your healing process. When resting at home, you should ensure personal comfort by using pillows to elevate your head. It is important that you avoid moving your neck vigorously because the strain could tear the healing incision. However, you should not avoid physical movement completely. You should consider taking short walks to promote drainage from the thyroid area. Also, you can do some light stretching exercises to relieve physical stiffness.

Protect Your Mouth

The surgery will get rid of the cancerous cells on the thyroid. However, if the cancer has spread or the condition was unusual, your doctor might recommend radioactive iodine use. This treatment will remove the cancer cells which were not eliminated through surgery. Unfortunately, the radioactive iodine can have some negative effects in the oral cavity. For instance, your mouth might feel tender. If this is the case for you, you should avoid using harsh mouthwashes and toothpastes. Dry mouth might also occur. You should purchase appropriate sprays and gels to deal with the dryness. If this side effect is ignored, it could cause dental problems.

Finally, you should note that the removal of your thyroid gland will cause a thyroid hormone deficiency. Therefore, you should be ready to deal with hormone replacement therapy. If you notice unusual symptoms due to the therapy, consult your specialist.