Health Encyclopedia


Health Encyclopedia Home

What to Know About Hormone Therapy for Thyroid Cancer

What to Know About Hormone Therapy for Thyroid Cancer

If you’ve had surgery to remove your thyroid gland and/or radioactive iodine therapy, your body may no longer make the thyroid hormones it used to make. You will likely be prescribed thyroid hormone therapy, which is usually given in the form of pills. These pills replace your lost hormones. Thyroid hormones are important because they help the body work properly.

The pituitary gland in your brain controls the thyroid. If the pituitary senses that thyroid levels are low, it will make a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone normally stimulates the thyroid gland to make as much of its hormones as the body needs. TSH is also known to promote the growth of the thyroid gland and possibly promotes the growth of thyroid cancer cells. Therefore, keeping TSH low after you have had your thyroid removed due to cancer, may prevent some thyroid cancers from returning.

Conversely, if the pituitary senses that thyroid hormone levels are increased, it will not make very much TSH. Some studies have shown that people who had thyroid cancer treatment generally do better when the amount of TSH in their blood is low. So in people with thyroid cancer, a balanced amount of hormone pills are given to help the body work properly, and to keep TSH levels low. 

Side effects of thyroid hormone therapy

People on thyroid hormone therapy need regular blood checks to avoid taking too little hormone (which would result in hypothyroidism) or taking too much hormone (which would result in hyperthyroidism). Signs of hypothyroidism include low energy, fatigue, sleepiness, weight gain, feeling cold all the time, hair loss, and dryness of the skin. Hyperthyroidism may cause nervousness, shaking, weight loss without dieting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, and excessive sweating. Over time, it may also lead to thinning of the bones (osteoporosis). 

Related Items
Content Type 167
Drug Reference
  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
  Thyroid Cancer External Radiation Therapy
  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