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Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. The thyroid helps set your metabolism – how your body gets energy from the foods you eat.

A thyroid gland that is not active enough is called hypothyroidism. It can make you gain weight, feel fatigued and have difficulty dealing with cold temperatures. If your thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs. That condition is hyperthyroidism. Too much thyroid hormone can make you lose weight, speed up your heart rate and make you very sensitive to heat. There are many causes for both conditions. Treatment involves trying to reset your body’s metabolism to a normal rate. This can be done usually be done with medications.

A thyroid nodule is a lump in your thyroid gland.  These lumps, or nodules, are very common, with almost 15% of the populations having a lump on the thyroid.  The vast majority are benign (95%).  If a nodule is larger (greater than 1 cm), then a small needle biopsy is usually done.  If the cells are “normal”, then a repeat examination in one year is appropriate.  If the cells are “abnormal”, then a possible removal of the thyroid nodule along with that half of the gland is appropriate.  The doctor cannot simply remove the nodule, but must remove that lobe or half.  You only need one lobe to provide all the thyroid hormone that you need.

Thryoid cancer is uncommon.  Fortunately, the prognosis is generally excellent with surgery alone.  Occasionally, patients might also get a dose of radioactive Iodine for a final “mop-up”, depending on the findings from surgery.