Treatment for Thyroid Cancer

If you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer, our multidisciplinary team will work with you to create a personalized plan to treat your cancer. We offer expertise in thyroid cancer treatment that few other institutions can match. Our surgeons perform hundreds of thyroid cancer procedures a year; research shows that experience matters when treating thyroid cancer.

Treatment plans depend on several factors, including:

  • Type of thyroid cancer
  • Size of the tumor
  • Your age and health
  • Stage of cancer

Treatment plans often involve surgery and thyroid hormone therapy. Treatment with radioactive iodine, which has little to no side effects, is also sometimes used. External beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy are not commonly used in the treatment of thyroid cancer, but they may benefit some patients who do not respond to other therapies.

Surgery

Surgery is frequently part of the treatment for thyroid cancer. Depending on the case, either part or all of the thyroid is removed. Thyroidectomy also may be indicated for large nodules that interfere with breathing, swallowing, or blood flow.

We can usually accomplish thyroid surgery with very few side effects. One of the main risks of the procedure is injury or damage to the nerves that control vocal cord function. During surgery, we use recurrent laryngeal nerve monitoring to valuate vocal cord function.

There is also a risk is to the blood supply that feeds the parathyroid glands that help control calcium levels in the blood. Because of these potential hazards, surgery by experienced, skilled thyroid surgeons is recommended.

Learn more about surgical treatments for head and neck cancers.

Thyroid Hormone Treatment

After your thyroid has been removed, your body can no longer make the thyroid hormone it needs, so you must take a thyroid hormone pill to replace the natural hormone. Taking thyroid hormone may also help prevent some thyroid cancers from recurring.

We are able to estimate the dose you will need based on your body weight, and then we can quickly fine-tune the dose as needed.

Radioiodine Therapy

Radioiodine (radioactive iodine) treatment is sometimes used after a thyroidectomy to destroy any remaining normal thyroid cells, as well as microscopic areas of thyroid cancer that were not removed during surgery. It can also help us detect whether the cancer has spread.

It’s an effective treatment when indicated and is rarely associated with side effects. The patient often has to be isolated afterward to prevent others from being exposed to the radiation.

After Treatment

Long-term management after initial treatment for thyroid cancer is different for each patient. Once you have completed treatment, your doctor will want to see you once or twice a year. We might need to order blood tests between doctor visits to fine-tune your thyroid hormone dose, and if adjustments are needed, we can usually make those without a separate doctor visit.

During your follow-up appointments, we will perform a physical exam and might order blood tests to measure your thyroid hormone levels or surveillance imaging tests.  Depending on the type of thyroid cancer you have, it often is very important to have follow-up neck ultrasounds, usually on a yearly basis for the first 10 years after initial treatment.

Follow-up is needed to check for cancer recurrence or spread, as well as possible side effects of certain treatments.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a specialist in thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer, complete our online form or call 214-645-8300.