Thyroid Cancer Treatments

Treatment Options for Thyroid Cancer

At City of Hope, your care team will work with you to implement a personalized treatment plan based on your specific diagnosis. There are several options for treating thyroid cancer:



Surgery is a common treatment option for thyroid cancer. At City of Hope, we use minimally invasive, robotically assisted surgeries whenever possible. These procedures result in less pain and discomfort, reduced blood loss and faster recovery times.

Depending on your specific thyroid cancer diagnosis, you may undergo one of the following types of surgery:

  • Lobectomy. Removes the lobe containing cancer while leaving the other healthy lobe alone. It may be performed if tumors are small and have not spread beyond the thyroid.
  • Total thyroidectomy. Removes the entire thyroid gland.

Drug Therapy

Drug therapy uses medicines to kill cancer cells. These therapies include:

  • Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. Hormones are substances made by glands in the body and circulated in the bloodstream.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment type uses drugs to kill all rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy: Unlike chemotherapy, targeted cancer therapy attacks cancer cells while causing less harm to healthy cells in the body. Targeted cancer therapy uses anti-cancer drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules that are involved in the progression of cancer.

The drug or drug combination used depends on the type and stage of thyroid cancer and the patient’s health, treatment and overall treatment goals. This personalized medicine approach may be further enhanced by molecular or genetic testing of your cancer, which can help identify treatments that are more effective and with fewer side effects.

City of Hope has a wide portfolio of cancer-fighting drugs available, allowing our medical oncologists to plan and prescribe a drug regimen that can best fight thyroid cancer while minimizing side effects.

Radiation therapy

City of Hope offers a wide variety of leading-edge radiation therapy options to treat thyroid cancer.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. Most thyroid cancers require external beam radiation therapy, which delivers a carefully focused bean of radiation from a machine outside the body.

Depending on the cancer, the patient’s health and desired outcomes, radiation therapy may be offered on its own, or in conjunction with surgery and drug therapy. 

Radioactive iodine therapy

After you've had surgery for thyroid cancer, you may undergo radioactive iodine therapy. The goal of this treatment is to remove all remaining thyroid cells or thyroid cancer cells anywhere in the body.

Radioactive iodine is taken in pill or liquid form, then travels through the blood to collect in thyroid cells. The thyroid gland absorbs nearly all the iodine in the blood, so when a large dose of radioactive iodine is taken, the radiation can destroy the thyroid gland and cancer cells with little effect on the rest of the body.