thyroid cancer is generally treated with surgery,
medicines may also be needed to treat the cancer and to replace thyroid
Medicines to treat thyroid cancer include:
- Radioactive iodine, which is used after
surgery to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue.
- TSH suppression therapy to reduce the TSH in your body. This slows the growth of any
remaining cancer cells.
- Thyroid hormone medicine to replace necessary thyroid
hormones that are made by your thyroid gland. If your thyroid gland is
surgically removed, you will likely need to take thyroid replacement pills for the rest of your life.
- Chemotherapy, which sometimes is used to treat
thyroid cancer that has come back after surgery and to treat
anaplastic thyroid cancer that does not respond to
- Targeted therapy with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as sorafenib and sunitinib. Targeted therapy with TKIs is being studied in clinical trials.
After you have your thyroid
surgically removed, you may have to wait several weeks before you have
radioactive iodine treatment to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue. During
the waiting period, you may have symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue,
weakness, weight gain, depression, memory problems, or constipation.
doctor may also put you on a low-iodine diet before treating you with radioactive iodine. If you are
on a low-iodine diet, you cannot eat foods that contain a lot of iodine, such
as iodized salt, seafood, and baked goods. Depleting your body of iodine may make radioactive
iodine treatment more effective, because your cells become "hungry" for
After surgery, you may need to take thyroid hormone replacement pills for the rest of your life. Taking these pills rarely causes side effects if you are taking the right amount. But too much thyroid hormone can cause you to feel hot and sweaty. It can also cause weight loss, a fast heart rate, chest pain, cramps, or diarrhea. And too little thyroid hormone can cause you to feel cold and tired. It can also cause weight gain, dry skin, or dry hair.1