How is recurrent thyroid cancer treated?

Updated: May 14, 2020
  • Author: Pramod K Sharma, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Recurrences are best treated with surgical excision if the disease is clinically evident and surgically accessible. Nonlocalized recurrences detected on the basis of elevated thyroglobulin levels are treated with131 I. On occasion, recurrent tumors do not concentrate iodine. Positron emission tomography (PET) may be helpful in localizing disease in such circumstances. When surgical excision of recurrent disease is not feasible, external-beam radiation therapy may be useful. Chemotherapy, usually with doxorubicin, is reserved for tumors that do no respond to other treatments and for palliative care. Response rates of 35-40% are reported, though complete responses to chemotherapy are rare.

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