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External radiation therapy of thyroid cancer


Radiation therapy can be given postoperatively, in combination with radioactive iodine therapy, or alone, and is central in the treatment of anaplastic thyroid carcinomas.

Radiation therapy is effective for symptom-causing metastases which do not take up iodine. The dose per fraction and total dose depends on the expected lifetime of the patient and the localization of the metastasis. Fractions vary between 8 Gy x 1 to 2 Gy x 35.


  • Undifferentiated (anaplastic) thyroid carcinomas
  • Papillary and follicular thyroid carcinoma in
    • stage IV - with macroscopic tumors with symptoms or life-threatening disease progression after surgery or treatment with radioactive iodine (131I)
    • locoregional recurrence - inoperability or nonradical surgery


  • Cure the disease 
  • Reduce the volume of the tumor
  • Remove or limit the extent of metastases

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