There are three types of thyroid cancer treatment:
Surgery is done to remove as much of the cancer as possible. The bigger the lump, the more of the thyroid gland must be removed. Often, the entire gland is taken out.
After the surgery, most patients receive radioactive iodine, which is usually taken by mouth. This substance kills any remaining thyroid tissue. It also helps make medical images clearer, so doctors can see if there is any cancer left behind or if it comes back later.
If surgery is not an option, external radiation therapy can be useful.
After surgery or radioactive iodine, patients will need to take medication called levothyroxine for the rest of their life. This replaces the hormone the thyroid would normally make.
Most patients who had thyroid cancer need to have a blood test every 6 to 12 months to check thyroid hormone levels. Other follow-up tests that may done after treatment for thyroid cancer include:
- Ultrasound of the thyroid
- An imaging test called a radioactive iodine (I-131) uptake scan