Thyroid Cancer Treatment

The goal of thyroid cancer treatment is to get rid the cancer cells from the body. The treatment option given is depends on the age, type of thyroid cancer, stage of the cancer, and the overall health conditions of the patient. In most cases, thyroid cancer can be cured with treatment when detected early.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment Options

There are five major treatments available for patients with thyroid cancer: Surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, radiation treatment, hormone treatment, and chemotherapy.


Surgery is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer. It is used to remove part of the thyroid gland that had cancer cells.

There are two type of thyroid surgery based on the size, stages and the types of thyroid cancer:

  • Lobectomy
    In this type of surgery, only the affected lobe or part of the thyroid is removed. This procedure is often taken for biopsy to determine whether you have thyroid cancer.
  • Total Thyroidectomy
    In this type of surgery, the entire thyroid gland is removed. Doctor often advised patient to have total thyroidectomy because undetected cancer cells may exist in other part of the thyroid gland and if whole thyroid gland is removed, this may reduce the chance that further surgery will be required. 

    After a total thyroidectomy, patient may also have radioactive iodine treatment to remove any cancer cells that have spread throughout the body. This is called thyroid ablation.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment

Radioactive iodine treatment or also called Internal radiotherapy uses radioactive iodine to kills cancer cells in the body. It is usually given in tablet form. When the radioactive iodine substances get into the body, it will travels through the bloodstream and destroys the thyroid cancer cells.

There are two type of radioactive iodine treatment:

  • Radioactive iodine ablation: Radioactive iodine is given after thyroid surgery. This radioactive iodine will destroy any abnormal or cancerous tissue that remains after surgery.
  • Radioactive iodine therapy: Treatment that is intended to destroy thyroid cancer cells in the body after the first ablation. This therapy is given if tests show that cancer cells are still exist in the body.

Radiation Treatment

Radiation therapy or also called External radiotherapy uses high energy x-rays to kills cancer cells. The radiation was come from large machine that aim directly at the neck or part of the body where the cancer has developed. This method is usually used to treat advanced thyroid cancer such as anaplastic and medullary thyroid cancer.

For radiation treatment, patients will usually go to the hospital 5 days a week for several weeks. Radiation treatment may also be used to relieve pain or other problems.

Hormone Treatment

Hormone treatment uses to stop cancer cells from growing. It is usually used to treat follicular and papillary thyroid cancer. When a patient takes thyroid hormone pills, the growth rate of any remaining thyroid cancer cells will slows down and thus lowers the chance that the disease will return.

After thyroid surgery, people with thyroid cancer may need to take thyroid hormone pills to replace the natural thyroid hormone.


Chemotherapy uses drugs or medications to kill cancer cells. The doctor may recommend chemotherapy following surgery to kill any cancer cells if the cancer cells have spread throughout the body.

Chemotherapy is usually given by injection into a vein or muscle intravenously. For some cases, chemotherapy may be combined with radiation treatment.

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