Thyroid cancer is one of the most common cancers, but most thyroid cancers are very curable if the proper treatment is given. The majority of this large website discusses the different types of thyroid cancer, how thyroid cancer is diagnosed, and the different options for treating each of the different thyroid cancer types. It is very important for you to choose the right options, including choosing a surgeon who is an expert in thyroid cancer surgery if you want the highest chances of cure. We've divided this large website into multipe sections specific to different thyroid cancers, thyroid diseases, and management. There is a lot of important information for you, so become an informed patient--they do the best!

Thyroid cancer is relatively common, enough so that all of us will know somebody with thyroid cancer. For an overview of Thyroid Cancer, the different types, who is more likely to get it and the progonsis, see our overview page here.

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Types of Thyroid Cancer

Start here to get the overview on the different types of thyroid cancer. Each type of thyroid cancer has unique features that change the way the patient is treated. Each type has different requirements and very different outcomes.

Thyroid Surgery and Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Dr Gary Clayman in the operating room doing a thyroid surgery. Dr. Gary L. Clayman during a thyroid cancer operation

Some Benign Thyroid Tumors (non-cancers) and almost all Thyroid cancer are treated with surgery. The amount of the thyroid removed and the size of the operation depends on condition of the thyroid gland, extent and size of the thyroid or thyroid tumor, whether there is involvement of lymph nodes or other sites, and the disorder of the thyroid or thyroid cancer. It is critically importnat that the thyroid surgery must be the right surgery, for the right patient, as well as for the right tumor (or cancer).

Thyroid Lobectomy. Removing half of the thyroid gland is appropriate for many thyroid cancers. See a video of thyroid lobectomy. A frequent surgery for benign tumors, follicular neoplasms, toxic thyroid nodules, and many thyroid cancers. The surgery is brief, usually lasting no more than twenty minutes and spares all parathyroid glands as well as all important nerves to the voice box (superior laryngeal nerve and its branches and recurrent laryngeal nerve and its branches). Even for larger tumors, the incision is small and cosmetically designed to be almost unnoticeable.

Total Thyroidectomy. Removing all of the thyroid gland is necessary for many thyroid cancers. A common thyroid surgery for goiters, Grave’s disease, and thyroid cancers with lymph node spread. The surgery is brief, usually lasting no more than thirty minutes and spares all four parathyroid glands and all the nerves to the voice box (both superior laryngeal nerves and their branches and recurrent laryngeal nerves and their branches). Even for larger tumors, the incision is small and cosmetically designed to be almost unnoticeable. Total removal of the thyroid gland should not be performed by inexperienced surgeons. The potential risks are just too great.

Extended Complicated Thyroidectomy. An uncommon surgical procedure that should only be performed by the most experienced thyroid surgeons. This type of surgery is only required in thyroid cancers that have grown into adjacent structures such as the nerves to the voice box (recurrent laryngeal nerve), breathing tube (trachea), swallowing tube (esophagus), or blood vessels.

Lymph Node Surgery. Operations for thyroid cancer can also include the removal of lymph nodes.

Modified Radical Neck Dissection. Removal of cancers which have invaded or involved muscular, vascular or soft tissue parts of the neck in the surgery for advanced/aggressive thyroid cancers. All other muscular, nerve, and vascular uninvolved structures are completely spared.

Re-Operations. Sometimes the first surgeon was not prepared for a thyroid cancer or all of the cancer was not completely appreciated in the initial evaluation of the thyroid cancer patient. Unfortunately, this happens quite frequently for a variety of reasons. First, expert evaluation is required of all patients prior to thyroid surgery, second most thyroid surgeons are quite inexperienced performing less than 100 operations per year, thirdly, nearly 50% of all patients with thyroid cancer will not know their diagnosis of thyroid cancer until following their initial operations. Therefore, often a second (or further subsequent) operation is required to achieve the best cure and control rates for thyroid cancer. As a patient, you cannot control the quality of your thyroid surgery, but you can choose the best thyroid surgeon to avoid obtaining the wrong or an incomplete thyroid surgery. Recurrent or persistent thyroid cancer surgery should only be accomplished by the most experienced of thyroid cancer surgeons. Occasional surgeons should not perform recurrent or persistent thyroid cancer surgeries or total removal of the thyroid gland.

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