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Health Information Center

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Thyroid Cancer

  • Amy Scholten,MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Thyroid Cancer

Lifestyle changes can help:

  • Keep the body strong through treatments
  • The immune system fight cancer
  • Improve outlook and mood
  • Prevent other problems that could make it harder to get better

Quitting Smoking

Smoking may make thyroid cancer treatment less effective . It also increases the risk of more problems. Smoking slows tissue healing. It can also cause irritation to the throat and nearby structures. These areas may already be very irritated from treatments.

Quitting smoking, helps the body repair itself. Quitting will help boost the immune system. This helps fight the cancer and improve recovery from treatment.

Reducing The Risk of Infection

Cancer and its treatments suppress the body's immune system. This can increase the risk of infection. It can also increase how severe common infections are, like a cold or the flu. These steps can help decrease the risk of infection during treatment:

  • Washing hands thoroughly and often—or using hand sanitizer
  • Avoiding crowds—especially during cold and flu season
  • Not touching eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects often
  • Getting vaccines as advised by the doctor. Examples are vaccines for the flu and pneumonia

Making Diet Changes

A healthful diet can help the body in many ways. It can improve mood and energy levels. Good nutrition also helps tissue heal and recover.

Cancer and some of its treatments can make a person not want to eat. It is important to make the most of the calories that are eaten. A dietitian can make a meal plan to help with these challenges.

The doctor may recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements. It can help to correct low blood calcium levels after surgery. Regular blood tests will be needed to check calcium levels.

Exercising Regularly

Exercise has many benefits. It can help the body cope better with cancer and treatment. Exercise has many benefits. It helps with:

  • Promoting overall fitness
  • Boosting energy level
  • Improving the immune system
  • Boosting mood and outlook

The doctor can give guidance on safe exercise.

It is important to balance rest and activities. This helps prevent excess tiredness.

Managing Tiredness

Being tired is common with cancer. This is especially true with thyroid cancer. It is important to prioritize tasks and get help with daily chores. Planning rest time also helps.

Seeking Support

It can be difficult to cope with a cancer diagnosis. A serious disease brings uncertainty and anxiety. Worries about treatment and lifestyle changes can be overwhelming. Having support helps a person cope better. Some sources of support are:

  • Family and friends
  • Religious community
  • Support groups for people with the same type of cancer
  • Social workers and counselors who specialize in cancer

Family and caregivers may also need support. Support groups or counseling can help them.

Comfort Measures

Sometimes thyroid cancer is found in advanced stages. This makes it harder to treat. Some people choose comfort treatments. Or they choose to stop treatment completely. This may be time to start end-of-life planning. Some things to consider are:

  • Choosing home or hospice care
  • Decisions about money
  • Advance directives, which include:
    • Legal issues, like wills
    • Hospital orders for care
    • Power of attorney for medical care and finances
    • Insurance coverage

The healthcare team can provide more information on these concerns.


  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anaplastic-thyroid-cancer. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  • End of life care. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/end-of-life-care.html. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  • Follicular thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/follicular-thyroid-cancer-21. Accessed April 21, 2022 .
  • Medullary thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/medullary-thyroid-cancer. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  • Papillary thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/papillary-thyroid-cancer. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  • Stay healthy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/healthy.html. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  • Thyroid cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq. Accessed April 21, 2022.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.