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Thyroid Cancer Chemotherapy

As a treatment for thyroid cancer, chemotherapy involves the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Some patients who receive chemotherapy for thyroid cancer may also need external radiation therapy. When it is used to treat people with thyroid cancer, chemotherapy may result in side effects such as an increased risk of infection, fatigue, hair loss, poor appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

Thyroid Cancer Chemotherapy: An Overview

Chemotherapy is sometimes used to treat thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer chemotherapy uses drugs to kill thyroid cancer cells. The doctor may use one drug or a combination of drugs for thyroid cancer chemotherapy. Chemotherapy for thyroid cancer is known as systemic therapy because the drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. However, some patients who need thyroid cancer chemotherapy may also need external radiation therapy. Usually chemotherapy is an outpatient treatment that is given at the hospital, clinic, or at the doctor's office. However, depending on which drugs are given and the patient's general health, the patient may need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Side Effects of Thyroid Cancer Chemotherapy

The side effects of thyroid cancer chemotherapy will depend on the drugs and the doses that the patient receives as well as how the drugs are administered. In addition, side effects vary from patient to patient. Before thyroid cancer chemotherapy begins, healthcare providers should explain possible side effects and suggest ways to manage them.
Systemic thyroid cancer chemotherapy affects cancer cells and other cells that divide rapidly, which include:
  • Blood cells
  • Cells in hair roots
  • Cells that line the digestive tract.
Blood Cells
Blood cells fight infection, help your blood to clot, and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When drugs affect the blood cells, the patient is more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and feel very weak and tired.
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