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Thyroid Cancer - Treatment Overview

Side effects of treatment continued...

The most important side effect of radioactive iodine therapy (RAI) is that you will become radioactive for a period of time. Your doctor will give you written instructions to follow to prevent exposing others to radiation. For more information, see Radioactive Iodine.

Thyroid hormone therapy rarely causes side effects when you have the right dose. Too much or too little thyroid hormone can cause side effects.

Taking high doses of thyroid hormone may cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat. High doses taken over time may also cause weakness in your bones (osteoporosis).

Home treatment may help you manage your side effects.

Treatment if the condition gets worse

Thyroid cancer may come back (recur). If thyroid cancer does recur, it may be found during a physical exam, on an ultrasound, or as a result of increasing thyroglobulin levels. Unlike other types of recurrent cancer, recurrent thyroid cancer is often cured, especially if it has spread only to the lymph nodes in the neck.

Recurrent thyroid cancer or thyroid cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body may be treated with surgery, radioactive iodine, or chemotherapy.

Clinical trials

Your doctor may talk to you about being in a clinical trial. For some people with thyroid cancer, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials for thyroid cancer are looking at targeted therapy with tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Palliative care

Your doctor may talk to you about palliative care. This is medical care that provides an extra layer of support for people with serious and chronic illnesses. With palliative care, you have the help of a medical team to manage your symptoms, pain, and stress. For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.

Additional information about thyroid cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/thyroid.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 27, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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