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Thyroid Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Options by Stage

Stages I and II Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancer

Treatment of stage I and II papillary and follicular thyroid cancer may include the following:

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General Information About Thyroid Cancer

Incidence and Mortality Estimated new cases and deaths from thyroid cancer in the United States in 2014:[1] New cases: 62,980. Deaths: 1,890. Carcinoma of the thyroid gland is an uncommon cancer but is the most common malignancy of the endocrine system.[2] Differentiated tumors (papillary or follicular) are highly treatable and usually curable. Poorly differentiated tumors (medullary or anaplastic) are much less common, are aggressive, metastasize early, and have a much poorer prognosis...

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  • Total or near-total thyroidectomy, with or without radioactive iodine therapy.
  • Lobectomy and removal of lymph nodes that contain cancer, followed by hormone therapy. Radioactive iodine therapy may be given following surgery.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I papillary thyroid cancer, stage I follicular thyroid cancer, stage II papillary thyroid cancer and stage II follicular thyroid cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Stage III Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancer

Treatment of stage III papillary and follicular thyroid cancer is usually total thyroidectomy. Cancer that has spread outside the thyroid, as well as any lymph nodes that have cancer in them, will also be removed. Radioactive iodine therapy or external radiation therapy may be given after surgery.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III papillary thyroid cancer and stage III follicular thyroid cancer. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials that may be right for you. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Stage IV Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancer

Treatment of stage IV papillary and follicular thyroid cancer that has spread only to the lymph nodes can often be cured. When cancer has spread to other places in the body, such as the lungs and bone, treatment usually does not cure the cancer, but can relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life. Treatment may include the following:

  • Radioactive iodine therapy.
  • External-beam radiation therapy.
  • Surgery to remove cancer from areas where it has spread.
  • Hormone therapy.
  • A clinical trial of chemotherapy.
  • A clinical trial of a targeted therapy.
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