Thyroid cancer treatment
There are 6 standard types of treatment19 for thyroid cancer. These include:
- Surgery: The most common treatment for thyroid cancer. Surgical options for thyroid cancer include lobectomy (removal of the lobe in which thyroid cancer is found), total thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid), near-total thyroidectomy (removal of all but a very small portion of the thyroid), and tracheostomy (surgery to create an opening, called a stoma, into the windpipe to help you breathe).
- Thyroid hormone therapy: Hormone therapy removes hormones or blocks their action while preventing cancer cells from growing. A medication may be given to prevent the body from making thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a hormone that can increase the chances of thyroid cancer growing or recurring. Patients must be given thyroid hormone replacement pills (levothyroxine), as thyroid cancer treatment kills the gland’s cells and prevents it from making enough thyroid hormone.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a form of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. The two types of targeted therapy are tyrosine kinase inhibitor and protein kinase inhibitor.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses powerful drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells (either by killing the cells or preventing them from dividing). Chemotherapy can be systemic (taken orally or injected into a vein or muscle) or regional (placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity like the abdomen).
- Watchful waiting: This practice involves closely monitoring a patient’s condition for any changes. Treatment is not given until signs or symptoms appear or worsen.
Thyroid cancer medication
Your healthcare provider might discuss possible medications to treat thyroid cancer:
May be prescribed
Thyroid cancer radiation therapy
Radiation therapy20 uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing.
The way that radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer you have. In some cases, it may be administered to kill any thyroid cancer cells that remain after surgery.
There are two types of radiation therapy21:
- External radiation therapy: External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. The radiation is sometimes aimed directed at the tumor during surgery (called inoperative radiation therapy).
- Internal radiation therapy: This treatment places a radioactive substance sealed in a needle, seed, wire, or catheter (thin tube) directly into or near the cancer.
Sometimes, follicular and papillary thyroid cancers are treated with radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy. RAI is taken orally. Because only thyroid tissue takes up iodine, this treatment destroys thyroid tissue and thyroid cancer cells without harming normal tissue.
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