Thyroid Cancer (cont.)
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Most people with thyroid cancer have surgery. The surgeon removes all or part of the thyroid.
You and your surgeon can talk about the types of surgery and which may be right for you:
The surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes. If cancer has invaded tissue within the neck, the surgeon may remove as much of that tissue as possible. If cancer has spread outside the neck, treatment of those areas may involve surgery, radioactive iodine therapy, and external radiation therapy.
Some people who have a lobe removed have a second surgery later on to remove the rest of the thyroid. Less often, the remaining thyroid tissue is destroyed by radioactive iodine therapy.
It's common to feel tired or weak for a while after surgery for thyroid cancer. The time it takes to heal is different for each person.
You may have pain or discomfort for the first few days. Medicine can help control your pain. Before surgery, you should discuss the plan for pain relief with your health care team. After surgery, they can adjust the plan if you need more pain control.
Surgery for thyroid cancer removes the cells that make thyroid hormone. After surgery, most people need to take pills to replace the natural thyroid hormone. You'll probably need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of your life. See the Thyroid Hormone Treatment section.
If the surgeon removes the parathyroid glands, you may need to take calcium and vitamin D pills for the rest of your life.
In a few people, surgery may damage certain nerves or muscles. If this happens, a person may have voice problems or one shoulder may be lower than the other.
You may want to ask the doctor these questions before having surgery:
Reviewed on 5/7/2012
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