For most patients, the first treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery to remove all (thyroidectomy) or half (hemi-thyroidectomy) of the thyroid gland. When the thyroid cancer is small and isolated to one half, or lobe, of the thyroid gland, the surgeon may decide to remove only the affected lobe (hemi-thyroidectomy). If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, the cancerous lymph nodes are also removed at the time of the thyroidectomy. Our surgeons specialize in delicate head and neck surgery. They will answer any questions you have prior to your surgery.
Surgery is performed at UW Medical Center. You can expect to go home one day after the surgery.
At SCCA, you receive care from among the most skilled surgeons in the country. You can expect your surgery to go very well, but as with all surgery there are some temporary and some long-lasting side effects including the following:
- Hoarseness or loss of voice. The larynx (or voice box) may be temporarily or permanently affected by the surgery.
- Numbness, tingling, and muscle spasms may be caused by low blood calcium levels if the parathyroid glands are affected by the surgery.
- Infection of the surgical site.
- Excessive bleeding or blood clot in the neck.
Most effects of the surgery are temporary and can be treated. You will want to discuss any concerns you have with your doctor.
Once your thyroid is removed, you no longer produce thyroxine (thyroid hormone). Fortunately, a tiny pill called levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone, is an easy-to-swallow daily replacement.