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Thyroid problems after radiation?

Posts: 47
Joined: Apr 2002

Has anyone experienced throid problems after radiation treatment? I have 25 treatments to the chest area and now they think I might have a thyroid problem. I will let you know the results of the tests but I want to hear from you too.
Thanks, Lia

gdpawel's picture
Posts: 538
Joined: May 2001

In the months and years following exposure to large doses of
radiation, subacute and finally late effects of radiation injury
are seen. Cytologic atypia, which is likely to become less
prominent as the cells undergo successive divisions but
occasionally may lead to cancer, may be present along with
atrophy, infarction, ulceration, hemorrhage, inflammation, edema,
and scarring due in part to progressive stenosis of radiation
injured vessels, which become sclerotic and may accumulate foam
cells deep to the intima (considered almost pathognomonic of
radiation injury in the case of irradiated small vessels). To a
large extent, late effects of radiation on an organ may be
likened to diabetes, in which there also is progressive tissue
degeneration due to progressive ischemia from slowly degenerating
vessels, except that in the case of diabetes the injury is
systemic and not localized to the irradiated area. Epithelium in
irradiated tissue may vary from atrophic to hyperplastic over a
short distance. Telangiectatic vessels are frequently
encountered. Persistent round cell infiltration with a prominent
plasma cell component is very common. The slow destruction of an
irradiated organ may lead to death years after completion of the
therapy. These problems essentially place the radiation
therapist between a rock and a hard place, wishing to give
neither too little radiation and thus impair the chances for
curing a cancer, nor too much radiation with the risk of such
complications as pulmonary fibrosis, bowel wall injury, and
cerebral radionecrosis.
Other long-term
reactions include loss of vision, development of secondary
malignancies(oncogenesis) and pituitary-hypothalamic dysfunction(changes
in normal hormone levels)leading to problems with your thyroid, sugar
metabolism, fertility or ability to process water.

Posts: 5
Joined: Jul 2002

I dont know for sure if i have Thyroid problems or not. I may have pituitary problems... im not sure . But ifi do, doctors ahve said it may be related to my Chemo and or radiation treatment. I am a childhood leukemia survivor.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2012

Thyroid Problems Overview

The thyroid gland is located on the front part of the neck below the thyroid cartilage (Adam's apple). The gland produces thyroid hormones, which regulate body metabolism. Thyroid hormones are important in regulating body energy, the body's use of other hormones and vitamins, and the growth and maturation of body tissues.

- Medical Articles

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2002

I had nasal pharyngeal carcinoma in 1993. I had 2 mo of extensive radiation treatments and 11 mo of chemo. I am on thyroid medication now for the rest of my life. My thyroid does not work. I don't have menstrual cycles, and cannot conceive children unless I take certain medications. It is highly probable to have thyroid problems after radiation. Have your levels checked regularly. Nicol

Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2000

I had cancer as a kid and am on thyroid medications now, but so is my sister who has never had cancer, so I'm sure if there is a connection or not.

lori89's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2003

Lia, I had radiation to my neck and chest which, according to my endocrinologist, killed part of my thyroid gland. He tested me and found that the gland is partially functioning, partially not. Therefore, he put me on Synthroid (artificial thyroid hormone). That was 13 years ago. He told me it was caused by the radiation. I take 1 pill everyday, and will have to the rest of my life. He also said it's possible over time that the functioning part of the gland will cease to work, possibily resulting in it having to be removed. I wish I had been told to expect thyroid problems after my treatments were over.


Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2003

Lia, I had 35 radiation tx 15 yrs ago for tongue cancer at the age of 22. At the end of last yr, after experiencing extreme fatigue, I had my thyroid tested and was found to have hypothyroidism caused by the radiation. I am currently taking Levoxyl, and have found this to give me an entirely new lease on life. I have so much more energy now, I feel like a whole new person. I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about it, just make sure you get your routine check-ups, and be mindful of your body and how you are feeling! Good luck to you, and God bless!

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2011

Hello Lia,

I am also experiencing some thyroid issues at this time I believe most likely are the result of 30 radiation treatments I had fifteen years ago. I knew something wasn't quite right when my endocrinologist did an ultra sound on my thyroid and told me it had a "wavy, wrinkled" appearance. My problem is hyperthyroidism which means my thyroid makes too much of the chemical, not too little.

I was not able to have the $2400 nuclear thyroid scan at a local hospital due to my insurance not covering this so am currently being treated with medication. I take one pill (methimazole) but had to agree to have more blood work completed in 7 weeks which is fine.

I am amazed that after 15 years this treatment can come back to haunt me but thankful it can be treated effectively. I believe these issues are just now coming to light with more women speaking up or becoming aware as time goes on...........Marilyn

Best of luck to you dear.

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

Welcome to CSN. I too had Thyroid problems just about 4 years after my last treatment. Hit me so hard I was weak as can be, doctor did a test and got me back up and going with one little red pill everyday

Wishing you well

shadow01's picture
Posts: 15
Joined: Oct 2008

During my first cancer (2006--7), I had 3 brain tumors (2nd met) followed by 3 brain surgeries to remove them.  After that, I had whole-brain/max-dose radiation therapy.  At the time, nobody said anything about possible problems with the thyroid after the radiation, but a few years later, it was diagnosed as a major part of all of the ... ummm ... stuff I was going through.  Every doctor I talked to about this is virtually certain that the radiation was the direct cause of the thyroid damage.  I'll be taking Synthroid for the rest of my life ... every morning, by itself, NPO for 45--60 minutes (per my primary care/internal medicine specialist doc, other meds ok at 30+ minutes after the Synthroid).


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