Part 1: The Story of Thyroid Cancer

1)  What effects does the cancer have on your host’s body?

“Symptoms of advanced thyroid cancer include trouble breathing, a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, and even bone pain if the cancer has moved to the bones, said Dr. Michael Yeh of UCLA. When cells function normally, old ones die and new ones take their place. But sometimes, that process goes wrong. New cells don’t form as fast as they should, and old ones don’t die as often as they should. These cell blockages are called tumours. Benign tumours are preferred over malignant tumours, because benign tumours are a one time occurrence. A malignant tumour can move to other organs in the body, or pose a threat to the hosts life if it causes enough trouble.

2)  How was the host’s life affected? What was their story?

The following story was submitted by an anonymous writer to curetoday.com . I do not take credit for any of the content.

“I went in to the doctor for a yearly medication refill appointment. The physician’s assistant did the routine neck and lymph node check and felt a tiny lump on my thyroid. He told me that nodules are common and happen with age but recommended I get an ultrasound to be safe. The ultrasound found three suspicious nodules that had to be biopsied. The biopsy suggested papillary thyroid cancer. That led to a complete thyroidectomy.” -Anonymous

3)  How is the cancer treated?

Depending on the type, stage, and health of the patient, cancer treatment can look different, for different people. Radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment is sometimes used after a thyroidectomy for cancers in the early stages. A thyroidectomy is complete removal of the thyroid containing the tumour. RAI treatment can be used for patients suffering from severe cancers, but it often has to be combined with radiation and chemotherapy. Some people who have had a thyroidectomy will need to complete a thyroid hormone treatment after surgery; this is often applicable with older patients.

Part 2: The Production of Thyroid Cancer

1)  What questions did you need to research in order to create your cancer story?

I needed to look into the pharmaceutical/ medicinal aspect of it, like what treatments and medications give the best results, quickest results, minimal side effects, worst results, lots of side effects. I want to stress the fact that a how a patient reacts to a treatment is completely dependent on them. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so some might be able to handle more than others.

I looked into the biological aspect of it, like what carcinogens pose a risk factor and if it runs in someones family. Surprisingly enough, being exposed to more environmentally dangerous carcinogens puts a person at risk. For example: miners, construction workers, most blue-collar workers, and living near a fuel emitting factory puts someone at a slightly greater risk for developing thyroid cancer.

2)  What new or familiar digital tools did you try to use as you worked through this project?

I used and still used my laptop throughout this process.

3)  What was the process you used to investigate the topic?

I looked at different medical journals online, and utilized the wonderful resource called Google Scholar. There are lots of societies and foundations stocked full of information for patients. I found that while Google Scholar gave me good information, some of it was at a university level, so it was slightly difficult. The fancy words threw me off once in a while.

4)  How did you verify and cite the information you found?

I followed this rule while I was cruising around Google: Check everything twice. I’ll admit, it was really hard to follow this rule especially when something looked promising. It was always the ones that looked great that failed me, in terms of honest information. On google scholar, all of the journals/books/articles are published, so I didn’t need to check and see if it were honest or not.

5)  How did the process of completing this challenge go? What could you have done better?

I think that I could have created a better summary of what I researched and discovered, and I could have had time to look more into how it effects the patient. Symptoms vary depending upon the person, so it was confusing to try and find a “middle ground.”

Part 3: Thyroid Cancer: the Musical

1) What type of cell is affected?

“It develops from the C cells of the thyroid gland, which normally make calcitonin, a hormone that helps control the amount of calcium in blood.” – American Cancer Society

“Medullary thyroid cancer, a type of thyroid cancer (MTC) accounts for about 4% of thyroid cancers. It develops from the C cells of the thyroid gland, which normally make calcitonin, a hormone that helps control the amount of calcium in blood. Sometimes this cancer can spread to lymph nodes, the lungs, or liver.” – American Cancer Society

8 out of 10 adults have benign nodules on their thyroid, not to be confused with cancer. A nodule is like a cyst, often filled with empty fluid. A malignant tumour is one that is cancerous. Medulary Thyroid cancer is one of many types that is harder and harder to treat as it progresses. Treatment becomes more aggressive, the longer the host is infected.

2) Where in the body is this cell type found?

C cells and follicular cells are the 2 cells that the thyroid produces. When cancers develop, either one of these cells begins to mutate, which can mean the beginning of cancer.

3) What mutagens/ carcinogens can lead to this type of cancer?

Environmental, hereditary, and genetic defects can put someone at a greater risk for developing thyroid cancer. The risk doesn’t rise too much, maybe 0-2%. It’s the timing between when the cancer develops and when the host gets treatment that is crucial.

4)A little about me! My gene story…

I have a genetic mutation of the PTEN gene. when it works normally, it surprises the growth of tumours. My version however, promotes and even causes the growth of benign tumours. If I leave them untouched for long enough, cancer could develop. For girls(ME) , the thyroid is one of the places where the tumours could grow.

5) What is the survival rate related to this type of cancer?

Thyroid cancer has a survival rate of 97%, if it is caught in the early stages.