What are the treatments for the disease?
There are several treatments that may be used, depending on the the extent of the cancer:
surgery. The cancerous tissue must be removed. Often the whole thyroid gland will be removed. Tissue around the thyroid may also be removed.
internal radiation. In certain cases after surgery, a radioactive substance or isotope, such as iodine-131, may be given in a drink. Any remaining cancerous tissue will absorb the isotope. The isotope will then kill this tissue.
other treatments such as chemotherapy and external radiation therapy for cancers that are difficult to treat
What are the side effects of the treatments?
The side effects depend on the treatment given:
Persons who have surgery to remove the thyroid gland need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.
Radioactive isotopes cause weakness, nausea, and fatigue. These side effects do not last long. There are usually no long-term effects.
Chemotherapy can cause several different side effects depending on which medications are used.
External radiation therapy causes side effects that depend on the area of the neck that is treated. Effects may include skin irritations, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, and loss of appetite.
What happens after treatment for the disease?
The person will need to be monitored for many years to make sure the cancer has not come back. The daily dose of thyroid hormones may need to be adjusted. Otherwise the person can expect to live a normal life.
How is the disease monitored?
CT scans, thyroid scans, and chest x-rays will be performed to check and see if the cancer has come back. Thyroid function blood tests will be done to make sure the dose of thyroid hormone is correct.