Chemotherapy for thyroid cancer
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. It is not a very common treatment for thyroid cancer, but it may sometimes be used to treat advanced thyroid cancer that is not responding to RAI treatment or targeted therapy. It may also be used in combination with radiation therapy to treat anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Chemotherapy drugs are usually given by injection into a vein (intravenously). The number of treatment sessions and length of treatment time varies from person to person. Your treatment team will work out the best schedule for you.
The side effects of chemotherapy vary depending on the drugs used. Common side effects include:
- appetite loss
- hair loss
- mouth sores
You may also be more likely to catch infections.
Most chemotherapy side effects are temporary and your doctor will talk to you about ways to prevent or reduce them. You could be prescribed medicines to treat the side effects or be given a different type of drug, or your doctor may recommend a break from treatment.
Watch this short video to learn more about chemotherapy.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
A/Prof Diana Learoyd, Endocrinologist, GenesisCare North Shore, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, NSW; Emeritus Professor Leigh Delbridge AM, The University of Sydney, Thyroid Surgeon, The Mater and North Shore Private Hospitals, NSW; Prof Ruta Gupta, Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and The University of Sydney, NSW; Susan Leonard, Cancer Nurse Coordinator Thyroid and Brachytherapy, Cancer Care Services, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Dean Lisewski, Endocrine and General Surgeon, Fiona Stanley Hospital and St John of God Hospital, Murdoch, WA; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Jonathan Park, Consumer; A/Prof David Pattison, Deputy Director and Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Nuclear Medicine and Specialised PET Services, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and School of Medicine, University of Queensland, QLD; Prof Bruce Robinson, Endocrinologist, Co-Head, Cancer Genetics, Kolling Institute of Medical Research, The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Marissa Ryan, Team Leader (Cancer) Pharmacist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD.
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