Health Encyclopedia

 

Health Encyclopedia Home



Thyroid Cancer External Radiation Therapy

Thyroid Cancer External Radiation Therapy

In radiation therapy, strong, high-energy rays kill cancer cells or slow their growth. In external radiation therapy, the radiation is aimed at the cancer from a source outside the body.  

External radiation is a local therapy, affecting the cancer cells only in treated areas. This type of radiation, may be given alone, with chemotherapy or with hormone therapy. It is sometimes used before or after surgery to shrink tumors or kill residual cancer cells. It may also be used to treat cancers that cannot be removed surgically. A typical treatment course may include external radiation therapy five days a week for about six weeks. Although the actual treatment time is usually just a few minutes, it takes more time to get you into place and set up the procedure.

External beam radiation therapy is used to treat thyroid cancers that do not take up iodine, such as anaplastic or medullary cancer. It is also helpful when radioactive iodine (RAI) was tried, but the cancer cells did not absorb the iodine well. It can additionally be used to treat areas where the cancer has spread, such as the bones. It is sometimes used in combination with chemotherapy to treat anaplastic cancer.

Side effects of external radiation therapy

Radiation therapy affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. Common side effects of external radiation for thyroid cancer can include fatigue, trouble swallowing, hoarseness, loss of appetite, low blood counts, and nausea. The person's skin may also feel and look sunburned in the treated area, but this is usually temporary. 

 
Related Items
Content Type 167
  Calcitonin
Drug Reference
  Doxorubicin
  Levothyroxine
  Thyrotropin Alfa
Cancer Source
  What Is Thyroid Cancer?
  Statistics About Thyroid Cancer
  Am I At Risk for Thyroid Cancer?
  How Can I Prevent Thyroid Cancer?
  What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?
  How Does My Doctor Know I Have Thyroid Cancer?
  Understanding Your Stage of Thyroid Cancer
  What to Know About Your Treatment Options for Thyroid Cancer
  What to Know About Surgery for Thyroid Cancer
  What to Know About Radioactive Iodine Therapy for Thyroid Cancer
  What to Know About Hormone Therapy for Thyroid Cancer
  Thyroid Cancer Chemotherapy and Targeted Therapy
Cancer FAQs
  Thyroid Cancer FAQ
Daily News Feed
  Too Many Unnecessary Thyroid Biopsies Performed, Experts Say
  Cancer Drug Nexavar Tied to Pancreas Damage in 2 Patients
  Steady Rise in Thyroid Cancer Not Explained by Better Screening, Study Says
  Nexavar Approval Expanded for Common Thyroid Cancer
  Minorities, Poor More Likely to Be Diagnosed With Advanced Thyroid Cancer
  Thyroid Tumors May Be More Dangerous for Cancer Survivors: Study
  Surge in Thyroid Cancer Cases May Be Due to Overdiagnoses: Study
  New Drug Shows Promise for Resistant Thyroid Cancer
  Sophisticated Chest Scans May Raise Children's Lifetime Cancer Risk
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Thyroid Tumor Overview