Nuclear Medicine helps in the diagnosis and treatment of the thyroid

Most discovered thyroid nodules are benign (photo: Natural Herbs Clinic/Pixabay)

The thyroid is a gland that uses iodine to produce the hormones that regulate cell metabolism, controlling the function of virtually every type of tissue in the human body. This gland can present problems that can be divided into two large blocks: nodular diseases and when there is any change in the function of this organ.

“If we caught people on the street with a portable ultrasound device, we could find nodules 60% of the time, and 90% or 95% of these nodules are benign. That is, they could have the presence of fluids or cells that do not cause problems for the individual. another 5% to 10% of these detected nodules may harbor malignancy. So, we are initially talking about thyroid cancer. In turn, 95% of thyroid cancer cases have a mild behavior. In these cases, the standard treatment is surgery. People will be operated on and will be cured in the vast majority of the time”, explains Adelina Sanches, director of the Brazilian Society of Nuclear Medicine (SBMN).

The second class of diseases that involve the thyroid is the one that can alter the function of this organ for more (hyperthyroidism) or there can be a reduction in the release of these hormones (hypothyroidism): “The thyroid can be recognized as one of the great teachers of the maintenance of metabolism With excess hormones, we will have an acceleration of metabolism, causing weight loss, insomnia, tremors, nervousness, aggressiveness, as if the person were faster than normal. In hypothyroidism, the patient will have a reduced metabolism, you will gain weight, retain fluid, get tired, sleepy, have memory impairment”, highlights Adelina Sanches.

Nuclear medicine works mainly in cases of thyroid cancer and hyperthyroidism. In this second case, radiation is used to bombard the thyroid and make it shrink in size. Being in a smaller size, it starts to produce less hormone, with the reversal or reduction of the patient’s condition.

  Adelina Sanches
Adelina Sanches, director of the Brazilian Society of Nuclear Medicine (SBMN), says that 95% of thyroid cancer cases have a mild behavior and, in these cases, the standard treatment is surgery.
(photo: Personal Archive)

“When it comes to cancer, it’s as if we polished the inside, leaving no residue of malignant cells, trying to prevent the return of these diseases. In some cases, radiation can be used in a heavier way to treat metastases”, says the director of SBMN.

For the most serious and aggressive cases of cancer, which are very rare, nuclear medicine comes as a great help, being able to minimize the risk of future complications. “The presence of well-trained doctors to deal with the disease is fundamental so that, even in rare cases, the person has the necessary medical care to spare excessive actions for mild cases and to spare no effort for aggressive cases”, warns Adelina Sanches.

Contraindications of nuclear medicine

As for the contraindications for treatment with nuclear medicine, they can occur in cases of pregnancy or breastfeeding. “One of the rare contraindications is that patients who are breastfeeding will have to undergo treatment with radioactive iodine, which is used to fight thyroid diseases, both for diagnosis and treatment. In this case, the patient has to stay three weeks without breastfeeding. and this will make her lose the ability to self-regulate and maintain it later. In the case of pregnant women, the same situation, that is, the exposure of a pregnant woman should be strongly avoided in the first three months of pregnancy, unless be a life-threatening situation”, warns the doctor.

Only in very extreme cases would the breastfeeding mother be asked to stop breastfeeding to undergo treatment, as the director of SBMN points out: “”Often, it is important to manage the disease in another way until we apply radiation a little later on.” , in the treatment process, ensuring the breastfeeding of the child”.

Apart from these two situations, there are very rare and severe cases of hyperthyroidism in which patients are in the ICU and before starting treatment, it is necessary for the disease to be in a relative balance. “Radiation treatment, for a few days, can even present a slight worsening of symptoms, which is the release of hormones from the gland that will be purposely attacked by radiation so that, later, the patient enters a phase of continuous improvement. decompensated patients have a contraindication to undergo this treatment”, concludes Adelina Sanches.

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She's our PC girl, so anything is up to her. She is also responsible for the videos of Play Crazy Game, as well as giving a leg in the news.

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