Thyroid Cancer - Treatment Overview
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. For more information, see Medications. 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. For more information, see Home Treatment.
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.
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.
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.
For more information about thyroid cancer treatments, see the topics:
- Thyroid Cancer - Health Professional Information [NCI PDQ]
- Thyroid Cancer - Patient Information [NCI PDQ]