Acquired disorders of the thyroid following treatment for head and neck cancer

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The multimodality management of head and neck cancer routinely utilizes radiation therapy in treatment. The hypothalamus, pituitary and thyroid gland may be included within treatment fields. The incidence of human papilloma virus-associated oropharyngeal carcinoma has seen a dramatic increase over the last 3 decades. Current guidelines for the long-term aftercare assessment advocate only for thyroid-stimulating hormone levels every 6–12 months after baseline posttreatment imaging. With a growing population of younger patients with a favorable prognosis exposed to therapeutic radiation therapy, it is anticipated that incidence of thyroid-associated complications, such as hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer, could increase significantly over time. Constructing a strategy for the long-term reassessment of these patients beyond existing guidelines may be necessary.

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