Treatment for Thyroid Cancer
When it comes to thyroid cancer, the primary treatment is surgery. But the amount of surgery that is performed depends on the type of cancer you have.
In cases where the cancerous nodule is small and confined to one lobe, you may have just one lobe removed, which is known as a lobectomy. If the tumor is large and has spread to both lobes or beyond the thyroid gland, the surgeon will remove the entire thyroid, a procedure known as a total thyroidectomy. Some surgeons will perform a subtotal thyroidectomy, in which the surgeon removes most of the thyroid but leaves some tissue around the parathyroid glands and the important nerves. This is done to avoid damaging the parathyroid gland and nerves. Each patient's circumstances will vary, and you will need to discuss your treatment options closely with your doctor.
Thyroid surgery for cancer usually takes about two hours and requires a hospital stay of three to seven days. Although rare, you may experience some complications such as temporary or permanent hoarseness, excessive bleeding or infection of the wound, and numbness or tingling. In extremely rare cases, you may suffer damage to the parathyroid glands, which can lower blood-calcium levels and result in muscle spasms.
When choosing a thyroid surgeon, look for experience. According to the New York Thyroid Center, a skilled surgeon will do at least fifty thyroid or parathyroid surgeries a year. The surgeon's practice should concentrate on these types of operations.
After surgery, you will be placed on thyroid replacement hormones to replace what your body no longer makes. The dose of replacement hormones is often high enough to help keep your TSH levels low, too. Too much TSH has been known to provoke cancer cells, though it does not affect people with medullary cancer.