How We Can Help
Thyroid Cancer Treatment Information
We work with you to develop a treatment plan for your thyroid cancer, ensuring you get the treatment and support you need. Services include:
- Surgery. Surgery is the primary and most effective treatment for thyroid cancer. Even when thyroid cancer progresses to a more advanced stage by spreading to lymph nodes, it often remains clearly defined. This definition allows precise removal of most or all cancer cells, reducing the need for additional treatment. Depending on the type and stage of thyroid cancer you have, you may have all or part of your thyroid removed as well as surrounding lymph nodes. The procedure often takes two to four hours, and you receive general anesthesia. The most common operation involves a cut a few inches long across the front of your neck. Recovery from the operation typically takes a week or more.
- Radioactive iodine. After surgery, we can treat any remaining thyroid cancer by injecting a radioactive form of iodine into your body. The radioactive iodine kills all remaining cancer cells while having very few side effects on the rest of your body. You receive a single dose of this medicine, typically as a pill. In some cases, a technique called dosimetry is helpful in choosing the highest dosage of radioactive iodine you can take without unacceptable side effects. After you take radioactive iodine, you receive guidelines to avoid exposing other people to radiation.
- External beam radiation. This treatment involves aiming a high-energy beam at the cancer cells from outside the body. The radiation kills the cancer cells, though it may affect some surrounding cells. External beam radiation therapy usually consists of five sessions a week for five or six weeks. It can help destroy all types of thyroid cancer, including medullary and anaplastic tumors that do not respond to radioactive iodine. External beam radiation can be useful alone or in combination with other therapies. It is typically used if you cannot undergo surgery or for younger patients for whom thyroid removal may not be a good choice due to its effect on hormone production.
- Thyroid hormone (levothyroxine) therapy. Following removal of the entire thyroid, you will need lifelong hormone replacement therapy to replace hormones that your thyroid would have produced. This therapy helps your body continue to function normally and reduces the risk that your thyroid cancer will come back.
- Chemotherapy. The systemic anti-cancer drugs used for many other types of cancer are rarely helpful for thyroid cancer, but they have a role in treating some cases of anaplastic thyroid cancer. Chemotherapy for thyroid cancer can involve pills or injections.
Thyroid Cancer Locations & Physicians
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Thyroid Cancer Support Services
For more information, we recommend the websites below, which offer reliable information that can help you understand these cancers.
A Sampling of Thyroid Cancer Support Services
National Cancer Institute
This NCI website features extensive, well-organized information about thyroid cancer.
American Cancer Society
The ACS includes comprehensive information on many topics surrounding thyroid cancer, such as treatment and survival statistics.
American Thyroid Association
This professional society publishes an e-newsletter with thyroid health information for patients and families.
Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
This institute lets you search for thyroid cancer Indiana clinical research studies in which you might be able to participate.