Q:

Is metastatic papillary thyroid carcinoma medically treatable?

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Quick Answer

Medical treatments such as surgery, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and clinical-trial chemotherapy are available for metastatic papillary thyroid cancer, according to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association. The overall ten-year survival rate for thyroid cancer is very high, at 95 percent, states MedlinePlus. Metastasis may decrease this survival rate.

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Full Answer

Surgical removal of the entire thyroid is often done to treat thyroid cancer, MedlinePlus explains. When the thyroid is removed, patients must take medication called levothyroxine to replace the hormone that the thyroid normally makes. Radioactive iodine, which is taken by mouth, is another common treatment for people with thyroid cancer. When surgery is not possible, external beam radiation therapy may be used. Metastatic thyroid cancer is staged according to many factors, including what area of the body the cancer has spread to, according to the American Cancer Society. A TNM staging system is used, which is important when choosing treatment options.

Papillary thyroid cancer is a very slow growing cancer and is the most common type of thyroid cancer, according to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association. Some variants of papillary thyroid cancer such as tall cell, columnar and diffuse sclerosing grow faster and are not as common. The rate of recurrence with papillary thyroid cancer can be up to 30 percent and can occur long after treatment has ceased.

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