The majority of patients who develop thyroid cancer elect to have thyroid cancer surgery. This may require for the patient to have part, or all, of their thyroid removed.
The particular type of surgery that a patient has is going to depend largely upon their age, the specific type of thyroid cancer they have, their general overall health, and exactly how far the cancer has spread.
There are 3 main types of thyroid cancer surgery
- Thyroid Lobectomy – With this type of surgery, only a single lobe of the thyroid gland is removed. There has been a long unresolved debate with regard to the optimal initial treatment for unilateral papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), including the extent of thyroidectomy. This option is generally chosen if the cancer has not spread and is primarily restricted to one portion of the thyroid.
- Near Total Thyroidectomy – During this form of the surgery, all but a small portion of the thyroid gland is removed. This kind of surgery is generally performed on those who have small tumours on their thyroid.
- Total Thyroidectomy – As the name indicates, with this type of surgery, the entire thyroid gland is taken out. This is the most common type of surgery for thyroid cancer, due to the fact that the majority of patients have cancer in all globes of their thyroid. It provides the highest cure rate, and it also ensures that the radioactive iodine treatment will work better. The rationale for total thyroidectomy includes the frequent multifocal nature of the disease, the ability to reduce the risk of recurrence and to allow radioactive iodine treatment and the greater ease of monitoring by whole-body radioiodine scans and serum thyroglobulin levels.
During the procedure, it is also common for a patient to have some of the lymph nodes in their neck removed, so that they can be tested for cancer. If the cancer has spread to a patient’s lymph nodes, then a surgeon will use radioactive iodine to ensure that the last of the cancerous cells are destroyed.
Differentiated thyroid cancer tends to spread quite slowly; however, the earlier it is detected, the easier it will be to treat. Patients who have a total thyroidectomy tend to develop hypothyroidism, but this condition can be simply treated with the right medications.
If it is determined that a patient needs thyroid cancer surgery, then it will be important for them to ensure that the procedure is performed by a skilled and well qualified surgeon. The patient should also check out a surgeon’s success rates for conducting this type of surgery. In doing so, they will be less likely to experience problems later on, and there may be less of a chance that the cancer will recur at a later date.
This article seeks to provide general information only. It is not a substitute for through assessment and treatment by a medical specialist. If you have questions or concerns about thyroid cancer treatment, contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.