Thyroid Cancer Treatment - Thyroid Guide - Thyroid Supplements

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Once a patient is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, some things are needed to be considered. Each thyroid cancer treatment depends on the type of thyroid cancer and the extent or stage of the thyroid cancer one is suffering from. There are four type of standard treatment for people who suffers from thyroid cancer. Below are the types of treatment:

  • Surgery – considered as one of the most common treatment of a patient with thyroid cancer. This is the process wherein the thyroid gland is being removed.
  • Radiation Therapy with Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Therapy – this treatment is done to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing through radiation,
  • Chemotherapy – this is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill the cancer cells and stop them from dividing.
  • Thyroid Hormone Therapy – this cancer treatment is used to removes hormones. It blocks hormone actions and stops cancer cells from growing

Thyroid Cancer Treatment Radioactive Iodine

Radioactive Iodine is one of the thyroid cancer treatments. This type of radiotherapy is called internal radiotherapy. It uses iodine as part of treating thyroid cancer. The radioactive iodine is used to circulate throughout the body in the bloodstream. As soon as the iodine is in the body, the cancer cells will pick it up. The radiation in this iodine will be the ones to kill the cancer cells. This treatment does not affect other cells in the body since it is only the thyroid cells that pick up iodine. After this treatment, the doctor will check if the cancer cells are picking up the iodine or not. One who will be undergoing this treatment will have to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. Patients have the option to drink the iodine or have it injected in their arm. One must not eat or drink anything so the body can absorb the iodine. A patient will be scanned after a few days to check if the radiation has dropped to a safer level.

Interesting Questions about Thyroid:

Thyroid Tests

How is thyroid disease discovered?

As with any disease, it is important that you watch for the early warning signs. However, only your doctor can tell for sure whether or not you have thyroid disease. He or she can measure the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood, as well as look at the structure and function of your thyroid gland. If a nodule is found, your doctor can test whether or not it is cancerous.

What are the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease?

When your doctor examines you for thyroid disease, he or she should first ask about your symptoms and then check for physical signs. Your doctor will ask questions about your memory, emotions, or menstrual flow, and then check your heart rate, muscles, skin, and thyroid gland.

Which blood tests will my doctor use?

After a physical examination, your doctor may examine certain hormone levels in your blood. The most common tests check the levels of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Your doctor may also perform a test with an injection of thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH). If your doctor suspects Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease, he or she will probably test you for antithyroid antibodies or thyroid stimulating antibodies.

What does the radioactive iodine uptake show?

Iodine is an important building-block for thyroid hormones. Your doctor may give you a small amount of radioactive iodine and then measure the amount absorbed by the thyroid gland. If the thyroid absorbs a lot of this iodine, you may be hyperthyroid. Low iodine uptake may signal hypothyroidism or thyroiditis.

Why is the structure of my thyroid important?

Examining the structure of your thyroid gland and the surrounding area tells your doctor about a lump (nodule) which may be cancerous or enlargement of the thyroid (goiter).

Which tests look at the structure of my thyroid?

  • A thyroid image (or scan) shows the size, shape, and function of the gland. It uses a radioactive chemical, usually iodine or technetium, which the thyroid absorbs from the blood. A special camera then creates a picture, showing how much chemical was absorbed by each part of the gland. The test shows the size of the thyroid and tells whether lumps are hot (usually benign) or cold (either benign or malignant). The scan is frequently done at the same time as the radioactive iodine uptake.
  • In needle aspiration biopsy, a small needle is inserted into the nodule in an effort to suck out (aspirate) cells. If the nodule is a fluid-filled cyst, the needle often removes some or all of the fluid. If the nodule is solid, several small samples are removed for examination under the microscope. Over 90% of the time, this testing tells the doctor whether the nodule is cancerous or not.
  • Ultrasound uses high-pitch sound waves to find out whether a nodule is solid or filled with fluid. About 10% of nodules are fluid-filled cysts, and they are usually not cancerous. Ultrasound may also detect other nodules that are not easily felt by the doctor. The presence of multiple nodules reduces the likelihood of cancer.
Anti-Thyroid Drugs

What do antithyroid drugs do?

Antithyroid drugs block pathways leading to thyroid hormone production.

Antithyroid drugs used in this country are Propylthiouracil (PTU) and Tapazole®. Some physicians will recommend antithyroid medication as a first line of treatment to see if the patient is one of the lucky 30% of patients who go into a remission after taking antithyroid medication for one to two years. (Patients are said to be in remission if their hyperthyroidism does not recur after discontinuing the antithyroid drugs.) If antithyroid drugs do not work for the patient, then physicians usually recommend radioactive iodine.

Antithyroid drugs are also used to treat very young children, older patients with heart conditions, and pregnant women. For severe or complicated cases of hyperthyroidism, especially in older patients, PTU or Tapazole® can be given for four to six weeks to bring the hyperthyroidism under better control prior to administering radioactive iodine treatment.

In cases when women are diagnosed with Graves’ disease while they are pregnant, PTU is prescribed. The smallest dose possible is given because the medication does cross over to the fetus. The mother should be checked every three to four weeks during the pregnancy so that the lowest possible dose can be given. Too much PTU can cause fetal goiter, hypothyroidism, and mental retardation.

® Tapozole is a registered trademark of Jones Medical Industries.

Are there any side effects?

Antithyroid drugs cause side effects in about 10% of patients. Reactions can include:

  • skin rash
  • swollen, stiff, painful joints
  • sore throat and fever
  • low white blood count, which can lead to serious infections
  • jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin) and, rarely, liver failure.

Most side effects clear up once the drugs are stopped. If you think you are having a reaction to anti-thyroid drugs, call your doctor immediately.

What can be expected with antithyroid drug treatment?

  • Several pills are taken from one to four times a day, every day for six to 24 months.
  • Some patients complain that the pills have an unpleasant smell and taste.
  • There is usually some symptom relief within one to two weeks. In some cases, it can take several months to relieve symptoms.
  • Antithyroid drugs have a relatively low success rate. While PTU or Tapazole® may correct the problem temporarily or for a few years, the chances of a permanent remission are about 30% once the drugs are stopped.
  • The likelihood of achieving a permanent remission is increased if the patient takes the medication for one to two years.
  • There are side effects in 10% of the people treated with Tapazole® or PTU. These are:
    • skin rash over most of the body swollen, stiff, painful joints
    • sore throat and fever — if this happens, the antithyroid drugs should be stopped immediately and the physician contacted
    • jaundice
    • liver damage, which is fatal in rare cases
  • Because antithyroid drugs pass into breast milk, only PTU in a dosage less than 200 mg a day is advised if the baby is not weaned.
  • Within 15 years, the thyroid gland may burn out, resulting in hypothyroidism, and the patient will need thyroid hormone replacement.
Thyroid Hormone Pills

When are thyroid hormone pills used?

Thyroid hormone pills provide the body with the right amount of thyroid hormone when the gland is not able to produce enough by itself. The pills are frequently needed after surgery or radioactive iodine therapy.

Thyroid hormone tablets are the standard treatment for hypothyroidism. While symptoms usually get better within a few months, most patients must take the pills for the rest of their lives. This is especially true for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or radioactive iodine treatment.

If the entire thyroid gland has been surgically removed, thyroid hormone tablets replace the body’s own source of the hormone. If only a part of the gland has been removed, the pills may keep the remaining gland from working too hard. This decreases the chance that the thyroid gland will grow back.

How much hormone do I need?

The preferred hormone for treatment is levothyroxine (T4). You should use only the brand-name that your doctor prescribes, since generic brands may not be as reliable. Name-brand levothyroxine pills include Synthroid®, Levoxyl®, Levothroid®, Euthyrox®, and Eltroxin®.

Patients sometimes take more pills than they should, trying to speed up the treatment or lose weight. However, this can lead to hyperthyroidism and long term complications, such as osteoporosis. You should take the pills as your doctor prescribes.

At different times in your life, you may need to take different amounts of thyroid hormone. Therefore, you should see your doctor at least once a year to make sure everything is all right.

® Synthroid is a registered trademark of Knoll Pharmaceuticals.
® Levoxyl is a registered trademark of Jones Medical Industries.
® Levothroid is a registered trademark of Forest Pharmaceuticals.
® Euthyrox is a registered trademark of EM Pharma.
® Eltroxin is a registered trademark of Roberts Pharmaceuticals.

Are thyroid hormone pills needed after treatment for hyperthyroidism?
Many patients treated for hyperthyroidism become hypothyroid. They will need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of their lives. In addition, they will need to see their doctor at least once a year.

Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ

Thyroid Cancer Treatment Options

After a patient is diagnosed of thyroid cancer, a doctor will then suggest a treatment. Treating thyroid cancer depends on the extent of the cancer in a person’s body. Treatments such as chemotherapy, radioactive iodine and surgery are suggested by doctors to help cure thyroid cancer and kill cancer cells. However, a patient can always get or ask for a second opinion after their doctor had provided them the information of the treatment they will be undergoing. Whatever the treatment is, it would be best that the family and friends would be there and be strong for the patient who has thyroid cancer. All thyroid cancer treatments have one goal which is to cure thyroid cancer if possible, kill the cancer cells and prevent the cancer cells from dividing and spreading to other parts of the body.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Cancer is known to damage healthy cells and tissues. There are two things a thyroid cancer patient will be worried and concerned about normally. First is, will the cancer treatment be successful? The success rate of the cancer treatment is something that lies between the doctor and the patient. The other concern of a cancer patient would be what the side effects of a certain cancer treatment are? Side effects of a thyroid cancer normally happen just like any other disease being treated. There are unwanted side effects after a patient undergoes thyroid cancer treatment. The thyroid cancer treatment side effects depend on many factors which includes the extent and type of treatment. Side effects vary per patient. If side effects occur after the treatment, it is best to talk to your doctor so all concerns will be properly addressed. One must not worry since possible side effects of each treatment will be discussed by your doctor prior to starting the treatment.

Thyroid FAQ & Links to Related Articles

Parathyroid

There are four parathyroid glands that are normally having the size of a single rice grain. In some normal cases, they can be as big as the size of a pea.

Hypothyroid

Also called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal level of thyroid hormones in the body, which is too low.

Thyroid Glands

The thyroid is a butterfly (pear)-shaped gland, it consists of 2 symmetrical lobes joined by a central isthmus that normally covers the 2nd & 3rd tracheal rings.

Congenital Hypothyroidism

Congenital hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland disorder that may lead to deafness or mental retardation if left undetected.

Thyroid Depression

Hypothyroidism can cause depression. Most people don?t realize that this feeling is depression caused by the thyroid gland not functioning as it should.

Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer is one of the thyroid cancer types. This type of thyroid cancer arises from the follicles in the thyroid gland.

Thyroid Gland Function

The thyroid gland is located immediately below the larynx on each side of and anterior to the trachea. It is one of the largest of the endocrine glands

Thyroid Hormone

These thyroid hormones are responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism, which is how much food will be broken down into useful energy for consumption.

Thyroid Levels

When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, one may suffer from hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

The thyroid stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. The thyroid stimulating hormone promotes the growth of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones are chemical substances produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck.

Supplements for the Thyroid

Natural thyroid supplements are helpful as a remedy to thyroid disorders. Its natural ingredients assure one of its safeties in taking it.

Thyroid Symptoms in Women

The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that is the primary responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism.

Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid surgery is used to treat people with thyroid problems such as thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules and hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Test

Thyroid tests or thyroid function tests are done to check the thyroid function in one?s body. A doctor will be able to determine and diagnose the thyroid disorder.

Thyroid Treatment

Treatment for thyroid disorders should be done to prevent unwanted results caused by the severity of the condition. Consult a physician for more of these treatments.

Thyroidectomy

Thyroidectomy is a surgical process wherein the whole or a part of the thyroid gland is removed. This surgical process is used to treat thyroid disorders.

Underactive Thyroid

Having an underactive thyroid is a minor problem but it seeks proper attention to avoid further health problems. Consult a physician about any thyroid problem.

Low Thyroid

Low thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, is a condition where the thyroid gland is under active.

Underactive Thyroid Diet

Following a healthy meal plan, exercise and proper medication goes hand in hand to treat hypothyroidism. Consult a physician for a more individualized plan.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Each thyroid cancer treatment depends on the type of thyroid cancer and the extent or stage of the thyroid cancer one is suffering from.

Parathyroid Hormone Levels

Parathyroid hormones are considered to be the most important endocrine regulator. It basically regulates the calcium and phosphorus concentration in the body.

Parathyroid Disease

Studies show that since 1925, the standard treatment for parathyroid disease is to surgically remove the parathyroid gland(s) which are overproducing parathyroid hormones.

Parathyroid Adenoma

Parathyroid adenoma is a small tumor of the parathyroid gland and is known to be the most common disorder of the gland.

Medullary Thyroid Cancer

Medullary thyroid cancer is one of the types of thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men.

Overactive Thyroid

Most people don?t feel any symptoms. Others can just lose weight and just feel depressed for no reason at all.

Hypothyroidism

Suppose you go in for a routine checkup and your doctor decides to test your thyroid function. You?ve experienced no thyroid disease symptoms

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Hypothyroidism develops for over a long period of time. It?s normally from several months to even several years.

Hypothyroidism Natural Treatment

People who are suffering from hypothyroidism are advised to get plenty of exercise and have a balanced and healthy diet. The diet must be rich in protein and iodine.

Hypothyroidism Diet

Self medicating one?s thyroid disorder with hypothyroidism diet pills without proper information of the diet pill does not address the problem.

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms & Treatment

Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormones more than the body needs.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is one of the chronic diseases in the world. Hypothyroidism is also known as underactive thyroid; hypo means under or below normal.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a type of thyroid cancer that is rare and aggressive. It affects the thyroid gland and most especially its function.

Thyroid Disorders

Problems arise if the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive. There are three common thyroid disorders. These are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and the thyroid nodules.

Thyroid Hair Loss

Hair loss may happen for so many reasons but it is commonly associated to thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Function Test

Thyroid Function Tests are the different tests conducted to assess and determine the cause of an individual?s thyroid problems.