Thyroid Surgery

What is thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer happens when normal cells in the thyroid change into abnormal cells and grow out of control. The thyroid is a gland in the middle of the neck. The thyroid gland makes thyroid hormone. There are different types of thyroid cancer. Some types are more serious than others.

What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

Early on, people might not notice any symptoms. They might find out they have thyroid cancer after their imaging test of their neck for another reason.

When thyroid cancer causes symptoms, the most common symptom is a growth (called a "nodule") on the thyroid gland. This growth might get bigger in a short amount of time, or it might grow more slowly. In some cases, people see or feel the growth themselves.

Other symptoms of thyroid cancer can include:

  • Hoarseness or being unable to talk
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A cough or coughing up blood

All of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions that are not thyroid cancer.

Is there a test for thyroid cancer?

Yes. If you have a growth on your thyroid gland, Dr Alzubaidy will do tests to see whether the growth is cancer or not. (Many growths on the thyroid gland are not cancer.) These tests can include:

  • Imaging tests – The imaging test most often done is an ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create pictures of the thyroid. Some people also have a thyroid scan.
  • Blood tests
  • Fine needle aspiration – For this test, the doctor uses a thin needle to remove a small sample of cells from the growth. Then the sample tissue cells are looked at under a microscope.

What is cancer staging?

Cancer staging is a way in which doctors find out if a cancer has spread past the layer of tissue where it began, and, if so, how far. The right treatment for you will depend a lot on the type of thyroid cancer you have, its stage, and your other medical problems.

How is thyroid cancer treated?

Thyroid cancer is usually treated with the following:

Surgery – In most cases, thyroid cancer is treated with surgery to remove the cancer. Dr Alzubaidy will remove part or all of your thyroid gland. He might also remove nearby lymph nodes, which are bean-shaped organs that are part of the body's infection-fighting system. Radioactive iodine – Radioactive iodine (also called "radioiodine therapy") comes in a pill or liquid that you swallow. It has a small amount of radiation and can destroy much of the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormone – Medicines will be prescribed after surgery or radioactive iodine treatment. That way, your body will have the correct amount of thyroid hormone.

Other treatments that are sometimes used include:

External - beam radiation therapy – This treatment uses high doses of X-rays, called radiation, to kill cancer cells. The radiation comes from a machine that is outside the body. Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the medical term for medicines that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.

What happens after treatment?

After treatment, Dr Alzubaidy will check you every so often to see if the cancer comes back. Regular follow-up tests include exams, blood tests, and imaging tests. There will also be regular follow-up blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels.

You should also watch for the symptoms listed above. Having those symptoms could mean your thyroid cancer has come back.

What happens if my thyroid cancer comes back or spreads?

If your thyroid cancer comes back or spreads, you might have more surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, external-beam radiation, or chemotherapy.

What else should I do?

It's important to follow all Dr Alzubaidy’s instructions about visits and tests. It's also important to talk to Dr Alzubaidy about any side effects or problems you have during treatment. Getting treated for thyroid cancer involves making many choices, such as what treatment to have. Always let Dr Alzubaidy know how you feel about a treatment.