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Differentiated thyroid cancer: External beam radiotherapy

James D Brierley, MB, BS, FRCP, FRCR, FRCPC
Section Editor
Douglas S Ross, MD
Deputy Editors
Jean E Mulder, MD
Diane MF Savarese, MD


Surgical resection is the primary treatment for patients with differentiated (ie, papillary and follicular) thyroid cancer, followed by radioiodine and then thyroxine therapy. Most patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer have resectable tumors, and the results from surgery, radioiodine, and thyroxine therapy are excellent.

External beam radiotherapy (EBRT) is used infrequently in the management of differentiated thyroid cancer. It is predominantly indicated for palliation of locally advanced unresectable or metastatic disease in patients whose tumors do not concentrate radioiodine. The role of EBRT in other settings is less certain.

The use of EBRT in the treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer will be reviewed here. Other aspects of the management of differentiated thyroid cancer are discussed separately, as is the role of EBRT in other thyroid malignancies, such as lymphoma and anaplastic as well as medullary thyroid cancer.

(See "Differentiated thyroid cancer: Overview of management".)

(See "Differentiated thyroid cancer: Surgical treatment".)

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 27, 2017.
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