Thyroid Cancer: Treatment After Surgery

Patients and families may be interested to know that treatment of thyroid cancer differs from treatment of other cancers in some unique ways.

As readers may already be aware, thyroid cancer tends to be slow growing, allowing for most patients to be evaluated and treated before it spreads beyond the thyroid. Surgical treatment of thyroid cancer has a high rate of success and most patients can expect a full recovery and an excellent prognosis. In fact after surgery, some patients require no further treatment other than thyroid hormone replacement.

One significant difference between the post-surgical treatment of thyroid cancer and other cancers is that chemotherapy is not commonly used to treat thyroid cancer. Instead, some patients are prescribed radioactive iodine therapy after thyroidectomy to help ensure that no residual cancer cells remain in the surrounding tissue.

Because radiation therapy is administered in the form of a radioactive iodine pill rather than external radiation, thyroid cancer patients see their endocrinologist for their post-operative care.

Although in most cases thyroid cancer is very treatable, is it important to have close follow-up with an endocrinologist for monitoring and continued treatment. Thyroid cancer treatment is individualized, and decisions regarding whether or not radioactive iodine treatment is required should be made in close consultation with an endocrinologist.

Learn more about thyroid cancer and its treatment at the Columbia Thyroid Center.