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Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Some patients with papillary or follicular thyroid cancer may be treated with a lobectomy. A lobectomy is a type of thyroid cancer surgery that is used to remove the lobe with the cancerous nodule (growth). The surgeon may also remove part of the remaining thyroid tissue or nearby lymph nodes. Some patients who have a lobectomy will receive radioactive iodine therapy or additional surgery to remove remaining thyroid tissue.

Recovering From Thyroid Surgery

After surgery, patients usually feel uncomfortable, tired, or weak. Doctors will usually prescribe medication to manage pain that the patient may experience following surgery. The length of time it takes to recover from an operation varies for each patient.
After surgery to remove the thyroid and nearby tissues or organs, such as the parathyroid glands, patients may need to take medicine (thyroid hormone) or vitamin and mineral supplements (vitamin D and calcium) to replace the lost functions of these organs. In a few cases, certain nerves or muscles may be damaged or removed during surgery, which may cause the patient to have voice problems or one shoulder to be lower than the other.

Other Considerations

Nearly all patients who have part or the entire thyroid removed will need thyroid hormone pills to replace the natural hormone. After the initial surgery for thyroid cancer, doctors may need to operate on the neck again for thyroid cancer that has spread. Patients who have this surgery also may receive radioactive iodine therapy or external radiation therapy to treat thyroid cancer that has spread.
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