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Surgery for thyroid cancer

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Surgery for thyroid cancer

There are a few different types of surgeries that may be used to treat thyroid cancer.

  • Lobectomy: For small, well differentiated tumors that have not spread beyond the thyroid gland, a lobectomy may sometimes be performed. In this type of thyroid cancer surgery, the lobe containing the cancer is removed, leaving the other healthy lobe behind. This can reduce the need to take thyroid hormone treatment after surgery, since a functioning part of the thyroid remains.
  • Thyroidectomy: In this procedure, most or all of the thyroid gland is removed by surgery (total, near-total or subtotal thyroidectomy). This type of surgery for thyroid cancer is used for most patients. However, because very little or no functioning thyroid tissue is left behind, patients will need to take daily thyroid hormone replacement pills afterwards.
  • Lymph node removal: When the surgeon suspects that the thyroid cancer cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes, they will remove the enlarged or suspicious nodes in order to remove as much of the cancer as possible. This thyroid cancer surgical procedure is usually performed at the same time as the surgery on the primary tumor. 
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