Although thyroid cancer is generally treated with surgery, medicines may also be needed to treat the cancer and to replace thyroid hormones.
Medicines to treat thyroid cancer include:
- Reference Radioactive iodine, which is used after surgery to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue.
- Reference Thyroid hormone therapy to reduce the TSH in your body. This slows the growth of any remaining cancer cells.
- Reference Thyroid hormone medicine to replace necessary thyroid hormones that are made by your thyroid gland. If your thyroid gland is surgically removed, you will likely need to take thyroid replacement pills for the rest of your life.
- Reference Chemotherapy Opens New Window, which sometimes is used to treat thyroid cancer that has come back after surgery and to treat Reference anaplastic thyroid cancer that does not respond to radioactive iodine.
- Reference Targeted therapy Opens New Window with Reference tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as sorafenib and sunitinib. Targeted therapy with TKIs is being studied in clinical trials.
After you have your thyroid surgically removed, you may have to wait several weeks before you have radioactive iodine treatment to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue. During the waiting period, you may have symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, weakness, weight gain, depression, memory problems, or constipation.
Your doctor may also put you on a low-iodine diet before treating you with radioactive iodine. If you are on a low-iodine diet, you cannot eat foods that contain a lot of iodine, such as seafood and baked goods. Depleting your body of iodine may make radioactive iodine treatment more effective, because your cells become "hungry" for iodine.
After surgery, you may need to take thyroid hormone replacement pills for the rest of your life. Taking these pills rarely causes side effects if you are taking the right amount. But too much thyroid hormone can cause you to feel hot and sweaty. It can also cause weight loss, a fast heart rate, chest pain, cramps, or diarrhea. And too little thyroid hormone can cause you to feel cold and tired. It can also cause weight gain, dry skin, or dry hair.Reference 1
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Matthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology