This surgery involves the removal of the thyroid gland through an incision in the neck.
Thyroid cancer refers to the growth of abnormal (malignant or cancerous) cells in the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. Although the hormones produced by the thyroid gland affect many organs of the body, its main function is to control the body’s metabolism (how fast sources of energy are used). It also helps control body temperature and the level of calcium in the blood. Cancer of the thyroid can be one of four types.
Your healthcare provider will look for spread of the thyroid cancer to other areas of the body. This process is called “staging.” Metastatic thyroid cancer is cancer that started in the thyroid and has spread to other organs or tissues. In order to decide what type of surgical and non-surgical treatment is ideal for a specific cancer, your healthcare provider will need the following clinical information.
A thyroidectomy is the removal of the thyroid gland through an incision in the neck. It can be done to treat thyroid cancer, an overactive thyroid, a noncancerous thyroid growth or swelling of the thyroid.
Thyroid cancer can develop at any age, but it is most common in women between forty and fifty years of age and men between sixty and seventy years of age. The risk factors for cancer of the thyroid include:
There are no known ways to prevent thyroid cancer. Being aware of your risk factors can result in the cancer being diagnosed and treated sooner, which improves your prognosis.
Often thyroid cancers do not cause symptoms and are discovered during periodic health exam. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the above symptoms. He or she will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination. They may also recommend one of the following tests:
Treatments for thyroid cancer are either local (only affects the area of the cancer) or systemic (affects all areas of the body). Local treatments include:
Systemic treatments include:
All three treatments target and kill cancer cells.
Treatment for thyroid cancer may involve a combination of local and systemic treatments, especially if the cancer has traveled to other parts of your body.
After treatment, you will need to take a thyroid medication for the rest of your life.
To get a full range of opinions and perspectives, and depending of the specific clinical aspects of your case, you may want to consider input from a variety of doctors. This includes:
If your healthcare provider recommends a thyroidectomy, prior to the surgery you should tell him or her about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). You should also ask about specific instructions you should follow before and after the surgery. These include:
If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.
During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free.
Recovery from a thyroidectomy typically takes three to four weeks. You may need pain medication and help at home while you recover.
It is important to remember that the total cost of this care path does not include all possible medications, lab work, or imaging studies; those charges can add up. If your healthcare provider recommends any lab work or imaging studies, you may need to search for their costs separately.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you’ve had them.
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a thyroidectomy?
Before you go home, make sure you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans.
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