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Sluggish Thyroid


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I posted a message under the Expert board concerning sluggish thyroid. Somehow(don't know how) I came out as Guest, but i'm not a computer whiz, that's for sure :) I just wanted to know if anyone has experienced thyroid problems as a result of radiation treatement. If you see my message, it'll explain it all better. The big ? is does radiation cause this to happen? Anybody have a clue? Thanks,


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Hi Joanie...

I'm no doctor (and no computer whiz either! :wink: ) but if the thyroid got any radiation, I would think that yes, it could cause a person to become hypo. But I would also think that area of the neck would be blocked out if at all possible...just as I know they try very hard NOT to hit the heart or other organs when radiating the chest or lungs.

It's also a fact that many people end up with a sluggish thyroid or hypothyroidism as they get a little older. My hubby went a bit hypo in his 50's for example. But I was hyperthyroid when I was 27, was treated with radioactive iodine (RAI) and ended up hypo four years later. The RAI I was given was in liquid form and as I recall, amounted to about 50 rads. They can only calculate a dosage...and it's not exact, so more often than not it kills off too much of the thyroid and you end up hypo. But daily meds take care of that quite easily.

Thyroid levels fluctuate continually...so levels should be monitored according to your doctor's instructions. Just blood tests. Again, I don't know exactly what your radiation field covered...but I would sure think that they blocked out any areas they didn't want absorbing the radiation.....ie: anything other than tumor!

Don't know if this helped answer any of your questions, really...so I hope the expert...Oncodoc comes along to really answer them for you! But FWIW, I can tell you that meds should help ease all your symptoms...although my skin remains a bit dry and in the winter, I often have to sleep with socks on cuz my feet get so cold :roll:

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Might take a couple of weeks or so till you notice a difference, Joanie...but you will likely feel better. When I first went hypo, though, I think they did bloodwork to check thyroid levels every three months for a while...just to make sure my dosage was right. Then I went every 6 mos. for a while and then annually. Actually, my original dosage never changed for something like 18 years! Then it started to fluctuate.

So..."listen" to your body and if you are feeling more sluggish again, or have put on weight or if your skin and hair seem dry and dull....then go get checked!

Yeah, having Doc Joe around is terrific, huh?

And I'm feeling well but a bit tired. Just finished PCI today, have a very red forehead and missing patches of hair again. :roll: But overall, I'm doing fine, feeling fine and looking forward to the holidays! :)

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Oncodoc posted this in the GUEST thread.

Hypothyroidism (sluggish thyroid function) is very common, much more so in women than men and affects 2-5% of women. I'm not sure what your radiation fields were but the thyroid is usually shielded so it would be unlikely to be related to that. It would also be unlikely for chemotherapy to have caused this. It can be caused by a number of factors but usually it is an autoimmune process where the thyroid has been injured by your own immune system. I'm not aware of any way that diet will affect this and supplemental thyroid tablets is very effective in fixing the problem.

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I'm being treated for my hypothyroidism. Have been playing the drug balancing act now for months...and since my weight is STILL climbing, in October, my GP ordered more extensive bloodwork. Her take was that things didn't look right and she sent me to an endocrinologist.

The endocrinologist explained the thyroid as a cycle - the thyroid produces it's "stuff" on what the brain tells it to produce. The brain produces T(something)3 and T(same something)4 to send to the thyroid and all should be in balance. Raising the thyroid level SHOULD balance out the production of the Thing3 and Thing4 (not to be confused with Dr. Seuss' Thing #1 and Thing #2) - which according to my doctor should be even. For me, it's not - one of them is higher than the other and the TSH is now within normal. My supplement has been lowered three times after the gradual build up.

Dr. Endo is now checking hormones (24-hour urine collection), and I have follow-up bloodwork in two weeks - the more extensive six vial one (argh)...

If I find out ANYTHING, I'll try to remember to let you know. My next appointment with Dr. Endo is in February (yeah, long time out...LOL)

Take care,


They're trying to pin it down and fix it, but I don't know if they ever will.

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I went hypo six months post chemo. I did have rad/chemo also.

The endo is still tweaking my dose of syntroid. I see her every couple months. I gained about 40 unwanted pounds through treatment.

And Snowfake, Luvmydog might have an extra urinal for you to use. He brought home two cuz he was thinking he was such a great whizzer.

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hummmm. This thyroid stuff is interesting and it surprises me that the docs don't believe that it could be caused by radiation. I'm pretty sure that the release papers I signed mention the destruction of my thyroid as a "possibility". Anyway, I've never had mine checked but I've often thought I should. I realize that the field is normally shielded from the radiation but my tumor was located pretty high up in my chest (Not in the lung itself) infact right next to my heart. My throat swelled so much that at the end (they did two barium swallows during treatment) it was narrowed to look like a straw. If it can effect the throat that much wouldn't it be reasonable to assume it effected the thyroid? I sounds as though finding it is the tough part... once they know what's going on they can treat it and hopefully they can treat it successfully.

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This thyroid stuff is interesting and it surprises me that the docs don't believe that it could be caused by radiation. I'm pretty sure that the release papers I signed mention the destruction of my thyroid as a "possibility".

Tami....I think every effort is made to shield the thyroid gland from absorbing the radiation....but the release we sign includes EVERY possibility as that's how any doc will cover their butts. Can't blame 'em. I mean if it COULD happen...they put it in there, much as drug companies put every possible side effect in the drug inserts.

And yes, radiation WILL destroy thyroid tissue because that's how they often treat HYPERthyroidism....with radioactive iodine!

I remember the one thing in the release that I had to sign, was that "8-10 years" down the road, my chest radiation COULD result in serious damage to the heart!! :shock: A bit much to absorb, on top of a relatively new (at that point) cancer dx.....but then my next thought was....."Hey, if I make it 8-10 years out....I'll deal with any heart problems then. First order of business is to actually LIVE another 8-10 years~!! :D

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went hypo six months post chemo. I did have rad/chemo also.

Possibly, the chemo suppressing your immune system contributed to developing the sluggish thyroid??? Not sure on this....and would love oncodoc's take.

I do know it's fairly common to go hypo as you age...AND that it affects women a bit more. But as hypothyroidism IS thought to be an autoimmune disorder....I just wonder if the suppression of the immune system by chemo could contribute to developing it?

What is also of interest to me...is that I have three autoimmune disorders....have had them all for several, if not many, years. And yet throughout chemo and radiation....my WBCs never fell below normal range and my RBCs were only slightly below normal. I'd have expected otherwise :? ...but was pleasantly surprised by this. 8)

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