Thyroid Cancer

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Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones.


The treatments for thyroid cancer include:

  • Thyroidectomy – surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid
  • Radioactive iodine treatment – you swallow a radioactive substance that travels through your blood and kills the cancer cells
  • External radiotherapy – a machine is used to direct beams of radiation at the cancer cells to kill them
  • Chemotherapy and targeted therapies – medicines used to kill cancer cells



 It is the first treatment for most types of thyroid cancer. It may involve removing:

  • Part of the thyroid
  • The whole thyroid
  • Nearby lymph glands


Radioactive iodine treatment:

A course of radioactive iodine treatment is often recommended after surgery. This will help destroy any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of cancer coming back.


External radiotherapy:

If radioactive iodine treatment is not suitable or is ineffective, external radiotherapy may be used after surgery to reduce the risk of thyroid cancer coming back.

It can also be used to control symptoms of advanced or anaplastic thyroid carcinomas if they cannot be fully removed by surgery.


Targeted therapies:

Newer medicines known as targeted therapies are being used more widely to treat several types of thyroid cancer. These specifically target cancer cells, rather than harming healthy cells at the same time, as chemotherapy does.

These may be recommended if thyroid cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic thyroid cancer) and has not responded to radioactive iodine treatment.



Chemotherapy is rarely used to treat thyroid cancer, but it’s sometimes used to treat anaplastic thyroid carcinomas that have spread to other parts of the body.

It involves taking powerful medicines that kill cancerous cells. It does not cure thyroid cancer, but it may help to control the symptoms.


Follow-up tests:

Thyroid cancer can come back after treatment, so you’ll be asked to attend regular check-ups to look for signs of this.

You may need tests every few months, to begin with, but they’ll be needed less frequently over time.