Thyroid Surgery


In the last few years the frequency of thyroid cancer has increased however, its survival rate is high when the right treatment is applied.

The risk factors causing thyroid cancer are:

• Presence of thyroid related diseases or thyroid cancer in the family
• Being exposed to radiation in childhood or receiving radiotherapy treatment to the neck area
• Presence of thyroid nodules in people over the age of 60
• Iodine deficiency

Thyroid cancer does not show any symptoms at an early stage. At later stages the symptoms are:

• Swelling and lump in the neck
• Difficulty in breathing
• Hoarseness
• Difficulty in swallowing

Thyroid cancer almost always expresses itself as a nodule in thyroid. When presence of nodule is detected in the thyroid, the first thing to do is a biopsy with a fine needle from the nodule. Performing surgery for the nodule without confirming it with biopsy is not an appropriate approach. Fine needle biopsy is usually performed alongside ultrasonography. After the pathological confirmation of the cancer, surgical treatment is applied. In the surgery, the whole thyroid gland and the lymph nodes, when necessary, are removed. After the surgery, the patient has to take thyroid hormones for the rest of his/her life.
Although there are various types of thyroid cancer, most of them are differentiated cancers meaning that when appropriate surgery is performed, it does not affect the normal life span of patients.
In other less frequently seen cancer types, the extend of the surgery varies. Sometimes removal of the neck lymph nodes might also be necessary.
To conclude, presence of a nodule does not necessarily mean that it is a cancer and it is not always operable. Biopsy from the nodule is a must and presence of cancer must be confirmed pathologically.

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