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What are the treatment options for medullary thyroid cancer?

Medullary thyroid cancer is primarily treated with surgery. A thyroidectomy, or removal of most or all of the thyroid gland, and surgery to remove nearby lymph nodes in the neck has proven to be a successful way to treat this type of cancer. Sometimes radiation therapy is used after surgery. In the inherited form of this cancer, surgery works fairly well, and people can live for up to 10 years after the treatment. However, surgery for sporadic medullary thyroid cancer is not as affective. In both types, chemotherapy is not recommended because it has not shown effective results.

The best treatment for medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is surgery to completely remove all disease including the entire thyroid gland, the central neck lymph nodes (located behind the thyroid gland) and all lateral lymph node metastases (located on the side of the neck near the jugular vein and carotid artery).
The extent of disease can be estimated in most patients based on their calcitonin and CEA levels, which are tumor markers for MTC. After surgery, blood levels for calcitonin and CEA should be monitored routinely, usually every 6 months to a year. If calcitonin and CEA levels rise above the initial post-operative level, a neck ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) scan, should be performed to look for recurrent disease. If there is recurrent disease, then another operation may be needed. 
Radioactive iodine ablation does not work for MTC; external beam radiation or chemotherapy is reserved for patients with very advanced or severe disease.
For more information go the endocrinediseases.org:
Diseases of thyroid gland: Thyroid cancer

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.