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Thyroid Cancer Recurrence

If you are a thyroid cancer survivor, it is not uncommon to have concerns about recurrence. As with all cancers, recurrence can happen after successful initial therapy for thyroid cancer, even if you've been disease-free for years. In fact, as many as 35% of well-differentiated thyroid cancer patients experience a recurrence within 40 years after initial treatment, and only about two thirds of those recurrences happen within the first 10 years after therapy.

Most recurrences of thyroid cancer occur within the first several years after initial thyroid cancer therapy. As with the initial diagnosis of well-differentiated thyroid cancer, the prognosis is improved if the recurrence is caught early, when the tumor is small and localized. These are both good reasons why it's so important to keep up with routine checkups!

If you have a recurrence, it may either be local (in the thyroid area) or metastatic (somewhere else in your body).

Local recurrence of thyroid cancer

If you have a recurrence in the thyroid area, you may be treated with further surgery or with radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy.


Recurrence outside the thyroid area

If your cancer comes back outside the thyroid area, it is said to have "metastasized." When thyroid cancer metastasizes, it may appear in the central nervous system, in the lymph nodes in the chest, in areas of the lungs or bones, or in the neck.

Even though the cancer has metastasized, the cancer cells are still thyroid cells. Thus, if detected early and confirmed as a recurrence, metastasized thyroid cancer can be treated the way the primary cancer was -- with surgery and/or RAI therapy.

After treating a recurrence, you'll probably be monitored more frequently for the first few years after therapy.

To ready more about common treatment options, please visit the Newly Diagnosed section of this site.


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