Surgery is the first recommended treatment for most cases of thyroid cancer. Types of surgery include:
- Lobectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the cancerous lobe through an incision in the front of the neck. Because some of the thyroid gland is left behind, some patients do not need hormone therapy as with a thyroidectomy. However, when part of the thyroid is left behind, it becomes harder to detect recurring cancer through radioiodine scans.
- Thyroidectomy: This is the most common surgical procedure for thyroid cancer, in which a surgeon removes the thyroid gland through an incision in the front of the neck. You will need to take thyroid hormone pills daily after this surgery.
Because your thyroid absorbs most of the iodine in your body, radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy can be useful in treating thyroid cancer, especially papillary or follicular thyroid cancers that have spread. The RAI collects on thyroid cells that take up iodine, where it kills cancerous cells and destroys most of the thyroid. Because of the high levels of radiation, your body may give off radiation for a short time after this therapy. Some patients may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days following treatment.
This treatment kills cancer cells with high-energy rays through a targeted beam of radiation. External beam radiation is most used for medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancers that spread to other parts of the body. Learn more about our services by visiting our Radiation Oncology website.
Targeted drugs called kinase inhibitors are now being used to treat some thyroid cancers. The drugs work differently than other chemotherapy drugs, blocking proteins inside cells that send signals to other cells.
Chemotherapy drugs, given through injection or with oral pills, enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. While chemotherapy is usually not the best form of treatment for most thyroid cancers, it is sometimes used in combination with radiation therapy, especially for more advanced cancer.