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How is thyroid cancer treated?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Treatment depends on the type of cancer and overall medical condition of each individual. The most common treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery to remove all or parts of the thyroid gland. In some cases, the doctor will also remove the lymph nodes in the neck. Depending on the type of thyroid cancer, radioactive iodine can be taken by mouth to kill any cancer cells that weren't removed during surgery. Sometimes, chemotherapy (drug treatment injected into the veins) or radiation therapy (radiation from a machine directed toward specific body parts) may be used to kill remaining cancerous cells. After most surgeries, patients will take a thyroid hormone medication for the rest of their lives to replace the hormones that are no longer being produced.

Thyroid cancer treatment is determined by several factors, including the type of cancer, whether it has spread to local lymph nodes or distant sites (such as the lung or bones) and the person’s age at the time of diagnosis. Thyroid cancer treatments include:

  • surgery
  • thyroid hormone replacement
  • radioactive iodine ablation
  • external beam radiation
  • new targeted therapies such as chemotherapy
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • percutaneous alcohol injections 
Dr. Florence Comite, MD
Endocrinologist

Thyroid cancer can be treated in a number of ways, depending on an individual's risk factors. Active monitoring, medications and surgery are all options. In this video, endocrinologist Florence Comite, MD, explains these options in more detail.

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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.