Treatment

There are a range of cancer treatments for patients with endocrine tumours. The type of treatment given will depend on the the type and the size of the tumour or whether it has spread. Treatment plans are tailored to each person. Treatments include:

Before a patient can begin treatment, they must first give their consent. This is an important process to ensure that patients fully understand the nature of their treatment and the risks involved. Read more about consent.


Surgery

Very small cancers can often be treated with a simple surgical operation under local or general anesthetic, or with laser surgery, with no need to stay in hospital overnight.

If the cancer is larger, surgery will often involve a hospital stay and an operation under general anesthetic.

Thryoid Hormone Replacement

Once a patient has their thyroid gland removed by surgery their body no longer produces certain hormones. The hormones can be replaced by taking tablets. This is a life-long requirement as without these hormone tablets, patients would develop the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism such as weight gain, tiredness, dry skin and hair, and physical and mental slowness.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment

This is mainly taken as capsules, but can be taken as a drink or injected into a vein in your arm (intravenously). It is a way of giving radiotherapy internally, rather than externally| as high-energy rays. It is common for an operation| for papillary or follicular thyroid cancer to be followed by treatment with radioactive iodine. The iodine treatment can destroy tiny amounts of normal thyroid tissue and any cancer cells that are sometimes left behind after an operation. The treatment is sometimes known as thyroid remnant ablation.

Radionuclide therapy

Some types of tumour may take up large amounts of particular chemicals such as MIBG. To treat these tumours, the chemical can be attached to a dose of a radioactive substance. As the cancer takes up the chemical, it also takes in the radioactivity. 

To test whether or not the tumour takes up large quantities of these chemicals, a scan will first be done using a tiny amount of radioactivity. If the tumour takes up the radioactivity, the treatment will be given using a higher dose of the radioactive substance. Patients may need to be looked after in a contained room by themselves for a few days so that other people are not unnecessarily exposed to the radioactivity.

Drug Treatment

Some prolactin-secreting tumours can be treated with a drug treatment which reduces the production of prolactin. These drugs include bromocriptin and cabergoline.

If the whole pituitary gland is removed, drugs will have to be taken to replace the hormones that are normally produced (hormone replacement).

Biological Targeted Therapy

This is called Interferon and is used for carcinoid tumours and targeted therapy.