Side effects of treatment
The side effects of surgery for thyroid cancer are usually mild and last a couple of days. Your doctor will talk to you about medicine you can take if you are having pain. You will likely need to take
thyroid hormone medicine for the rest of your life to
replace the hormones that your body no longer makes.
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, radiation, 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.
Additional information about thyroid cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/thyroid.