Update on external beam radiation therapy in thyroid cancer

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Aug;96(8):2289-95. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-1109.


Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for thyroid cancer. The role for external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) as an adjuvant to surgery or as the primary therapy is established in anaplastic thyroid cancer but is controversial in differentiated thyroid cancer and uncertain in medullary thyroid cancer. This update reviews the recent reported success of combining EBRT with taxanes in anaplastic thyroid cancer. Also discussed are the recent reports from large single institutions that support the recommendations of the American and British Thyroid Associations on the use of EBRT in high-risk differentiated thyroid cancer. Further evidence on the role of EBRT in MTC is discussed. The important advances in the delivery of EBRT using intensity-modulated radiation and image-guided radiation that result in more accurate and potentially more effective radiation therapy with less toxicity are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / radiotherapy*
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Radiotherapy / methods*
  • Radiotherapy / trends*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy*