Thyroid Cancer Overview

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Treating Thyroid Cancer TOPICS

How is thyroid cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

About treatment

Depending on the type and stage of your thyroid cancer, you might need more than one type of treatment. Doctors on your cancer treatment team may include:

  • A surgeon: a doctor who uses surgery to treat cancers or other problems
  • An endocrinologist: a doctor who treats diseases in glands that secrete hormones
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who uses chemotherapy and other medicines to treat cancer

Many other people may be part of your team as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, and social workers.

After thyroid cancer is found, your doctors will discuss your treatment options with you. It is a good idea to take time to think about each of them. In choosing a treatment plan, things to take into account include the type and stage of the cancer and your overall health. The treatment options for thyroid cancer might include:

The best approach often uses 2 or more of these methods.

Most thyroid cancers can be cured, especially if they have not spread to distant parts of the body. If a cure is not likely, the goal of treatment may be to remove or destroy as much of the cancer as possible and to keep it from growing, spreading, or coming back for as long as possible. Sometimes treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms such as pain or problems with breathing and swallowing. This treatment is called palliative care.

The next few sections describe the types of treatment used for thyroid cancers.

Last Medical Review: 02/27/2014
Last Revised: 02/13/2015