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Thyroid Cancer Treatment

The goal of thyroid cancer treatment is to get rid the cancer cells from the body. The treatment option given is depend on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as 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 six major treatments available for patients with thyroid cancer: Surgery, radioactive iodine therapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, 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 three types of thyroid surgery based on the size, stages and the types of thyroid cancer:

  • Lobectomy
    Also called a partial thyroidectomy, lobectomy is surgery to remove only one side, or lobe, of the thyroid. It is usually used to treat differentiated (papillary or follicular) thyroid cancers that are small. It is also sometimes used to diagnose thyroid cancer if a biopsy result doesn’t provide a clear diagnosis.
  • Total thyroidectomy
    This is the most common surgery used for thyroid cancer. In this type of surgery, the entire thyroid gland is removed. In cases where your surgeon is unable to remove the whole thyroid but removes almost all it, this is a near-total thyroidectomy. If most of your thyroid is removed, it’s a subtotal thyroidectomy.

    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. However, because very little or no functioning thyroid tissue is left behind, patients will need to take daily thyroid hormone replacement pills afterwards.

  • Lymph node removal
    If your thyroid cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, your surgeon will remove the enlarged or suspicious nodes in order to remove as much of the cancer as possible. This thyroid cancer surgical procedure is usually performed at the same time as the surgery on the primary tumor.

    The surgeon may also remove enlarged lymph nodes from your neck and test them for cancer cells. Lymph node removal is particularly key for treating anaplastic or medullary thyroid cancer when you’re a candidate for surgery. If you have papillary or follicular thyroid cancer and you have more than one or two enlarged lymph nodes, you may have a separate surgery to remove these.

Radioactive iodine therapy

This uses radioactive iodine to kills cancer cells in the body. It is usually given in a tablet form. When the radioactive iodine substances get into the body, it will travels through the bloodstream and destroys the thyroid cancer cells. This treatment kills the cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy 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. Radiation can also be given internally through needles, catheters, and other methods.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy uses to stop cancer cells from growing and returning by lowering the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is a regulatory hormone that stimulates the growth of the thyroid gland and may also stimulate thyroid cancer cells. It is usually used to treat follicular and papillary thyroid cancer.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to normal cells. This is normally given in pill form and there are fewer side effects than with chemotherapy.


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. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

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