Thyroid Cancer Treatment

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we give you options about how to treat thyroid cancer based on the type of disease you have, and your preferences and needs.

Whether you have very low-risk disease that’s unlikely to worsen, or cancer that’s come back after treatment (recurred) or has spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body, we can help.

Once we confirm your diagnosis, we customize a treatment plan based on factors such as:

  • the size of the tumor
  • a genomic analysis of the tumor
  • whether the tumor has spread outside of the thyroid
  • your overall health and personal preferences
As a leading center for the diagnosis and treatment of all types of thyroid cancer, we can help you get the best outcome and quality of life possible.

Active Surveillance, Surgery, and Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Treatment

Many people with small, low-risk papillary thyroid cancer choose to participate in our program of active surveillance for thyroid cancer. Once called watchful waiting, this approach involves closely monitoring your condition over time.

Many people with thyroid cancer get surgery, which can be effective in curing thyroid cancer. We also may recommend surgery if the disease comes back in the neck area.

Many patients do well with radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) after surgery to prevent the disease from coming back. You can get RAI therapy to treat thyroid cancer that has come back, is advanced, or appears in areas of the body outside of the thyroid gland.

Clinical Trials and Other Treatment Options for Advanced Thyroid Cancer

Radiation therapy, proton therapy, and other forms of systemic treatments with anti-cancer drugs can be an option for you if the disease becomes advanced. These approaches are sometimes effective if your cancer isn’t responding to other therapies anymore.

Oren Cahlon, MSK’s Director of Proton Therapy, examines a patient.
Proton Therapy: A Better Way to Destroy Tumors
Proton therapy uses charged particles to target tumors with precision while reducing the risk of treatment-related side effects.
Learn more

We offer many patients participation in a range of clinical trials, including:

  • observational trials for low-risk patients
  • targeted drugs to improve the effectiveness of radioactive iodine
  • molecular-based therapies for people with advanced thyroid cancer who don’t get better with conventional treatments