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Patient’s Guide to Thyroid Cancer and Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism considerations after thyroid cancer surgery
This site is intended for United States residents only.

What is Thyrogen® (thyrotropin alfa for injection)?

What is Thyrogen® (thyrotropin alfa for injection) and what does it do?

Thyrogen is a version of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) manufactured by biotechnology that is similar to the TSH that your body naturally produces. Thyrogen is available by prescription only and is given by intramuscular injection prior to radioactive iodine remnant ablation and diagnostic follow-up in patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer.

Thyrogen helps you to avoid hypothyroidism while still allowing your physician to successfully ablate the thyroid remnant as well as obtain reliable diagnostic test results for the recurrence of thyroid cancer.

When might my doctor recommend Thyrogen?

There are several reasons why you and your doctor may choose to use Thyrogen: 

  • Thyrogen permits your doctor to put you on thyroid hormone replacement therapy right after surgery so you avoid the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
  • Thyrogen treatment may be used in combination with radioiodine to ablate thyroid remnants following near-total or total thyroidectomy in patients without evidence of metastatic disease.
  • If a previous thyroglobulin (Tg) blood test was negative while you were taking thyroid hormone replacement therapy, your doctor may want to confirm this result with a repeat Tg blood test in combination with Thyrogen.
  • Sometimes the pituitary gland is unable to produce enough TSH naturally to make thyroid cells absorb radioactive iodine (to be seen on a scan) or to make enough thyroglobulin (to be measured by the Tg test). In this case, Thyrogen may help.
  • If your doctor does not believe that thyroid hormone withdrawal is appropriate for you.
  • Thyrogen may be considered by your doctor if you are unwilling to stop taking your thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

Are there any reasons why my doctor might not use Thyrogen?

You should discuss your options with your doctor and decide if your medical situation and life/family circumstances make Thyrogen right for you.

Are there any side effects with Thyrogen?

The most common side effects reported in clinical studies were upset stomach, headache, tiredness, throwing up, dizziness, prickling and tingling sensation, weakness, difficulty sleeping, and diarrhea. Even with a Thyrogen-stimulated Tg test and wholebody scan, a risk remains of missing a diagnosis of thyroid cancer or of underestimating the extent of disease. Please read the full product information which provides complete details about Thyrogen’s use and possible side effects (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). If you have any questions or concerns, you should talk with your doctor before receiving Thyrogen.

How will I receive Thyrogen?

Thyrogen is given as an injection into the muscle of the buttock for two days in a row.

The injections are given by a health care provider. If you are having Thyrogen for ablation the following schedule may be used:

Remnant Ablation Schedule

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Post-ablation scan should be performed 3 to 5 days after the administration of radioiodine
1st Thyrogen

2nd Thyrogen

Radioactive iodine


If you are having Thyrogen for monitoring recurrences, the following schedule may be used:

Diagnostic Testing Schedule

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
1st Thyrogen

2nd Thyrogen

Radioactive iodine dose if whole-body scan is performed   Serum thyroglobulin (Tg) with or without whole-body scan

Be sure that you understand and plan your schedule according to your doctor’s instructions.

If you are a physician, please visit http://www.thyrogen.com/healthcare/thy_hc_overview.asp

Important Safety Information for Thyrogen® (thyrotropin alfa for injection):

  • When Thyrogen is used to help detect thyroid cancer, there is still a chance all—or parts of—your cancer could be missed.
  • In a study of people being prepared for treatment with a form of iodine after thyroid surgery, results were similar between those who received Thyrogen and those who stopped taking their thyroid hormone. Researchers do not know if results would be similar over a longer period of time.
  • Your doctor may take extra steps to care for you during Thyrogen treatment if you have heart disease and large amounts of remaining thyroid tissue after surgery.
  • If you are over 65-years-old and did not have your entire thyroid removed during treatment of your cancer, you may be at risk for abnormal heartbeat while receiving Thyrogen. Because of this, you and your doctor will need to carefully consider the risks and benefits of Thyrogen before starting it.
  • In clinical studies, the most common side effects reported were upset stomach, headache, tiredness, throwing up, dizziness, prickling and tingling sensation, weakness, difficulty sleeping, and diarrhea.

Please see Thyrogen Full Prescribing Information.

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