Thyroid cancer

CISS relies strongly in its evaluations below on impartial analyses by the International Cochrane Collaboration and the British Medical Journal’s Clinical Evidence Group – two groups of researchers who specialise in Evidence Based Medicine. 

Conventional medicine supports the paradigm that states that the tumour is the first stage of cancer; therefore treating and removing the cancer should cure the cancer. Unfortunately statistics show this is rarely the case. Conventional medicine also advocates treatment should only be used if supported by appropriate clinical trials showing efficacy. Evidence based medicine suggests that the only reliable evidence for efficacy comes from properly run randomised controlled trials (RCTs). As mentioned below, none of the RCTs evaluating conventional intervention for cancer have shown any clear benefit. Therefore the conventional cancer paradigm needs to be questioned.

Much of the following descriptions are based on the conventional cancer paradigm with comments from CISS inserted where claims have not been established.

The US National Cancer Institute states that “Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide. Genetic changes that cause cancer can be inherited from our parents. They can also arise during a person’s lifetime as a result of errors that occur as cells divide or because of damage to DNA caused by certain environmental exposures. (There is little evidence for this claim – CISS)

The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the windpipe. It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. A thin piece of tissue connects the two lobes.

The thyroid makes hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight.

There are four types of thyroid cancer. These are papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. The most common is papillary thyroid cancer, which usually grows in one lobe of the thyroid gland and accounts for about 75% of all cases. Follicular thyroid cancer accounts for about 15% of thyroid cancers. Medullary thyroid cancer accounts for about 7% and anaplastic for about 3%.

Apart from the less common thyroid cancers medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer there is also thyroid sarcoma or lymphoma. (NCI and Cancer Council Australia.)

In Australia thyroid cancer accounts for about 1.6% of cancers and about fewer than 0.5% of cancer deaths. Women are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer than men and it ranks 8th among the types of cancer found in women. This higher rate with women is believed to be due to the link with oestrogen and other sex hormones development.

Causes of thyroid cancer

It is unknown what causes thyroid cancer, however there are known risk factors, including:

  • having a thyroid condition such as an enlarged thyroid (goitre) or thyroid nodules, often caused by a deficiency of iodine;
  • exposure to some forms of radiation, such as childhood radiotherapy treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

Thyroid cancer symptoms can include:

  • a lump in the neck or throat that may get bigger over time
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • swollen lymph glands in the neck
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • a hoarse voice.

You should talk to your GP if you have any of these symptoms as often thyroid cancer develops slowly without obvious signs or symptoms.


Most people with thyroid cancer receive a combination of treatments from surgery, thyroid hormone replacement therapy, radioactive iodine treatment, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. This will depend on the type and stage of thyroid cancer you have.

Surgery: The most common form of treatment is surgery, whereby a section or the whole thyroid gland is removed (partial or total thyroidectomy). As a preventative measure, the surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes (called a neck dissection).

T4 Therapy: Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is given as a daily tablet to replace the thyroid hormones (thyroxine or T4) that your body can no longer produce after surgery. If you have had thyroid surgery you will need Thyroxine replacement for the rest of your life as it is very important to keep your body functioning at a normal healthy rate.

Radioactive iodine treatment: A form of internal radiotherapy, radioactive iodine treatment is typically taken in a gel tablet form. It destroys any cancer cells left behind after surgery. Talk to your doctor about the safety measures required for this type of treatment.

Radiotherapy: External radiotherapy (the use of high energy x-rays) may be given after surgery, particularly if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, or for thyroid cancers that are less responsive to radioactive iodine treatment (such as medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancers).

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is sometimes used to treat thyroid cancer that is not responding to radioactive iodine treatment. It is usually given as a drug that is injected into a vein (intravenously).

Early detection/Screening

There is currently no thyroid screening in Australia. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommended against thyroid screening in 1996.

Thyroid cancer is easy to detect.


There is quite a lot of overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer because it is easy to find when looking for reasons of other problems. Researchers examining the thyroid during autopsies of people who have died of other causes have concluded that virtually everybody would have some evidence of thyroid cancer if examined carefully enough. The incidence of thyroid cancer has more than doubled over the past 30 years but early detection has had no effect on mortality, which has not changed in more than 40 years. So most of the new thyroid cancer identified are due to overdiagnosis.

Before deciding on one of these treatments you would benefit from asking your physician three questions:

Question 1: What are my treatment options? – these should include doing nothing.

Question 2: What are the possible outcomes of those options? – including benefits and side effects.

Question 3: How likely is each of the outcomes to occur?

If you feel your doctor or other health practitioner is not able to answer these questions, or shows that he or she is not comfortable with you asking these question, it suggests they are not practising evidence based medicine and you should consider getting another opinion.

These three questions can be expanded.

Alternative Cancer Therapies

Another paradigm states that cancer is a systemic disease and the tumour is only a late stage symptom, element or manifestation of that disease. Therefore treating the disease should be systemic and wholistic (meaning treating the whole body) and should include the following principles:

  1. Treatment should cause no harm
  2. Treatment should be Wholistic (ie consider the whole person – body, mind, emotions and spirit)
  3. The person with cancer needs to take control of their own health.

This latter paradigm is supported by CISS (See Introduction to CISS)

Alternative cancer therapies are generally consistent with the above principles. In fact those believed to be the most effective in controlling cancer – psychotherapy and immunotherapy – also have the strongest supporting evidence from randomised controlled trials.

There are approximately 200 alternative cancer therapies that have been shown or anecdotally reported to help a person with cancer have reduced morbidity and mortality. The following are those used for thyroid cancer with the most scientific evidence for benefit. What is important in any cancer treatment is to both understand and believe in your chosen therapy.

There are a few alternative cancer therapies claimed to produce benefits with thyroid cancer. Those claimed to have the most benefits include psychotherapy and immunotherapy although there are very few patients with thyroid cancer who have been in trials because thyroid cancers normally account for only about 1-2% of cancers diagnosed.

  • Psychotherapy

Although there were no patients with thyroid cancers enrolled in the trials, psychotherapy was found to provide benefits in all types of cancers with solid tumours, so thyroid cancer would not be expected to be an exception.

  • Immunotherapy

Wholebody immunotherapy as used by Josef Issels up to the 1970s produced 16.6% five year survival with late stage cancer patients and 15% fifteen year survival using a random sample of the 750 patients who had attended his clinic up to May 1954. Both of these figures included a small number of patients with late stage thyroid cancer (ie there were 6 out of the sample of 252 cancer patients who had thyroid cancer and most experienced the same increased survival).

References: Issels, J. Immunotherapy in Progressive Metastatic Cancer – A Fifteen-Year Follow-up. Clinical Trials Journal, August 1970: 357-365 – editorial by Phillips S. Dr Joseph Issels and the Ringberg Klinik. Clinical Trials Journal. August 1970: 355-56.

For Thyroid cancer, Ralph Moss, Cancer Therapy, The Independent Consumers Guide to Non-Toxic Treatment and Prevention, reports the following alternative therapy has been shown to benefit in addition to those above.

  1. Hydrazine sulphate – Hydrazine Sulphate is a prohibited import in Australia. This is a common industrial chemical that was used as a component of rocket fuel during World War II. It was first proposed as a cancer treatment in the early 1970s by Joseph Gold MD, of the Syracuse Cancer research Institute, NY.

Gold drew on the work of Nobel laureate Otto Warburg, who theorised that cancer derived its energy from anaerobic glycolysis (fermenting sugar) rather than respiring in the normal way. Gold proposed using chemicals to control cancer’s growth by exploiting this process.

Gold suggested that by cutting off a tumour’s supply of new glucose, formed in the liver,

the drug could starve the tumour, in turn stopping the cancer from depleting the body’s energy pools and putting an end to cachexia, the terrible wasting process that appears in the final stages of the disease. It is this wasting process that often kills the cancer patient and is estimated to cause ~40% of all cancer deaths.

A team of 11 scientists at the N.N Petrov research Institute of Oncology, Leningrad have been working on hydrazine sulphate since the 1970s. The Russians have had the greatest single experience with hydrazine sulphate having treated and evaluated over 740 patients, including five with thyroid cancer. This study found that hydrazine sulphate produced stabilisation or regression of the tumour in 50.8% of the patients, including those with thyroid cancer.


Filov, V, et al. Results of clinical evaluation of hydrazine sulfate. Vopr Onkol 1990; 36: 721-6.

Filov, V, et al. Experience of the treatment with Sehydrin (Hydrazine Sulfate, HS) in the advanced cancer patients. Investigative New Drugs 1995; 13: 89-97.

  1. MTH-68 – The MTH-68 vaccine is a biological product used against cancer and viral diseases. It is a unique form of immunotherapy, developed by Laszlo K Csatary, based on the idea that certain viruses can be used to interfere with the growth of cancer in humans. Csatary is convinced that much human cancer is actually viral in origin.

The concept is that one virus can interfere with the ability of another virus maturing or proliferating. Similarly in a Japanese clinical trial the purified mumps virus was given intravenously to 200 cancer patients. Tumour regression was observed in 26 of these patients including those with thyroid cancer.

Reference: Csatary LK et al. Viruses in the treatment of cancer. Lancet.1971; 2:825.


There are no specific treatments designed to prevent thyroid cancer. However there are several general approaches that are suggested might be useful in preventing all types of cancers. The main one, psychotherapy, has been shown to not only increase survival for people with cancer but also reduce the incidence of cancer among people with stress.

Based on the above information it would seem that preventing cancer, including thyroid cancer, involves mainly dealing with the emotional causes of cancer. See Cancer Prevention.

Choosing the right treatment for you

If you or someone close to you has just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer it is important that you research and understand your chosen treatment, whether that be conventional, alternative or a mixture of both. For the best results your treatment should include physical, mental, emotional / psychological and spiritual treatments.

If you don’t know where to begin in your journey to wellness then we suggest you read Where To Start. This provides an introduction to the alternative approach to treating cancer and also information about some evidenced based alternative cancer treatments.


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