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Thyroid Cancer and Staging

There are several forms of thyroid cancers which are staged in different ways. The commonest form of thyroid cancer are the well differentiated thyroid cancers know as papillary or follicular thyroid cancers.

Unlike most other cancers, differentiated thyroid cancers(DTC) are not staged before treatment. The staging of DTC is done after thyroid and neck surgeries. The staging is done by a radioactive tracer called Radio-Active-Iodine(RAI). Thyroid cells, including thyroid cancer cells, actively take in Iodine in the blood stream. When a patient is fed with RAI, this allows the tracer to seek out thyroid cancer cells anywhere in the body. This is by far the most accurate way of looking for spread of DTC. If the patient has not had a near complete thyroid removal, the RAI will congregate in the normal thyroid tissue and thus the RAI scan will not be helpful. Staging therefore can only take place only after thyroid removal.

The other types of thyroid cancer are Medullary Thyroid Cancer(MTC) and Anaplastic Thyroid cancer(ATC).

MTC is actually from parafollicular C cells embedded in thyroid gland and they produce a protein Calcitonin that can be used to measure active disease. The natural course of MTC is usually indolent although it can spread to the liver and lung. RAI and PET scans have not been found to be helpful for detecting spread. Normal CT are the recommended staging tools.

ATC is a unfortunate lethal condition that usually spread aggressively from the thyroid to the surrounding tissues in months. The average survivor period is between 6-12 months. Staging using a PET scan is sometimes helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

The information below will help you anticipate what to expect in the post-operative recovery phase and that it will answer common questions that are frequently asked of the thyroid surgery. The post-operative care will depend on the type of surgery performed. The 2 common surgeries are hemithyroidectomy (removal of one lobe of the thyroid) or total thyroidectomy (removal of both lobes of the thyroid).

  • Do I Need To Stay In Hospital?

    Hemithyroidectomy: After this procedure, patient will be reviewed and sent home on the same day. However, patients who need to stay in the hospital due to issues related to surgery, anesthesia or other reasons may be kept for one night. Total Thyroidectomy: Patients undergoing this operation will usually need to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days after the surgery for monitoring. A blood check the day after the surgery is necessary to ensure a normal calcium levels before home.

  • Will There Be Pain After Surgery?

    There is usually some pain over the neck wound incision, although this is less that most patients expect. This is due to the fact anesthetic is usually given to the wound site and additional pain medicine is given after the surgery. Pain medicine will also be given to the patient upon discharge.

  • How Can I Care For My Wound?

    Usually, we use a cosmetic closure technique that does not require sutures to be removed. The wound is covered with plaster gauze or a plastic waterproof cover for protection. The wound dressing will be changed a few days after the surgery.

General Services

Our clinic is dedicated to the management of thyroid, head and neck surgery fully supported by a comprehensive range of diagnostic, endoscopic & robotic equipment. Being a mature and high volume practice of more than 15 years, we see patients and physicians from around the world seeking the highest degree of expertise in thyroid and head and neck surgery.

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