I had my sixth month follow up on Thursday last week. It’s been six months(!) since my surgery in February. My surgeon wanted to see me so that she can make sure I am still cancer free.
I had to wait a long time, which was rather annoying, but the visit was relatively quick. She did an ultrasound on my neck to check the lymph nodes, and make sure that they look clean. (When papillary thyroid carcinoma spreads, it first metastasizes in the lymph nodes.) They did, and she also ordered blood work, for TSH and Thyroglobulin.
TSH is the thyroid stimulating hormone released by the pituitary gland in the brain. It tells the thyroid how much hormones it should produce. The higher the TSH hormone, the more hormone the thyroid needs to produce. This makes the TSH an easy way to tell if someone is either hypo thyroid (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid). Since I don’t have a thyroid, it’s an easy way to tell if they have prescribed me too much (or too little) medication.
Thyroglobulin is a protein secreted by the thyroid, and only by the thyroid. Since my thyroid was removed surgically (and the remnants destroyed by radioactive iodine treatment) my thyroglobulin should be undetectable. If there is thyroglobulin in my blood, that means the thyroid cancer has come back.
I’ve gotten the results of the TSH, which shows my levels are a tad too high. My surgeon instructed me that once a week, I should take half of a pill instead of a whole pill. This will prevent me from showing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as lack of sleep and heart palpitations. (Though the weight loss symptom would be nice!)
I haven’t gotten the results of the blood work back. However, my lymph nodes look clean, so that is an excellent sign. We just need to wait for the result of the blood tests. However, so far, no news is good news! I’ll see my endocrinologist in November, and I’ll see my surgeon again in February.