Thyroid Cancer Treatment Side Effects
It is hard to limit the effects of cancer treatment so that only cancer cells are removed or destroyed. Because cancer treatment can affect healthy cells and tissues, it often causes side effects. Doctors and nurses can explain the possible side effects of the treatment. They can also suggest ways to help prevent or manage these side effects. It is important that patients let the doctor or nurse know if they have any side effects.
Talk with your health care team about all of your options.
Side Effects of Surgery
Surgery can cause discomfort and pain at and around the surgical incision (cut). Patients are often uncomfortable during the first few days after surgery, but pain can be controlled with medication. Patients should discuss pain relief with the doctor or nurse.
Patients sometimes feel tired or weak for a while following surgery. The length of time it takes a patient to recover from an operation varies. Surgery for thyroid cancer may also cause patients to be hoarse or to lose their voice. This may not go away if permanent nerve damage occurs during the operation. Other possible side effects include infection, bleeding, and low blood calcium. Low blood calcium may occur because the parathyroid glands that control calcium levels in the blood may be removed unintentionally when the thyroid is removed.
Side Effects of Radioactive Iodine
Radioactive iodine therapy does not usually cause immediate side effects. Some patients may have neck pain, nausea, and dry mouth. Rarely, men may become infertile. Many doctors recommend that women who have undergone radioactive iodine therapy should not get pregnant for six months to a year following treatment. This therapy may also carry a small risk of leukemia later in life.
Side Effects of Thyroid Hormone Therapy
Patients on thyroid hormone therapy need regular blood checks to avoid taking too little hormone (which would result in hypothyroidism) or taking too much hormone (which would result in hyperthyroidism). Signs of hypothyroidism include low energy, fatigue, sleepiness, weight gain, feeling cold all the time, hair loss, and dryness of the skin. Hyperthyroidism may cause nervousness, shaking, weight loss without dieting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, and excessive sweating.
Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. Common side effects of radiation for thyroid cancer can include fatigue, trouble swallowing, hoarseness, loss of appetite, low blood counts, and nausea. The person's skin may also feel and look sunburned, but this is usually temporary.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. Side effects a patient may have depend on the type and amount of drug being taken. Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, mouth sores, diarrhea, low blood counts, and fatigue. Less often, serious side effects, such as infection, bleeding, or heart damage may occur.