With an average of over 50,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported every year, it’s a good thing that September raises awareness worldwide. A variety of health risks can stem from your thyroid and potentially lead to cancer. Here at The Surgical Clinic, our thyroid specialists want to help inform and educate you in honor of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month.

Thyroid Basics 101: (Anatomy and Purpose)

The butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple, is known as your thyroid. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which is made up of a collection of glands. The purpose of this gland is to produce, store and release hormones that control your metabolism. The thyroid gland is also responsible for releasing hormones into the bloodstream that help carry out vital bodily functions such as how you use energy, keeping you warm, and how you consume oxygen.

What About Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer develops when cells begin to change or mutate. Some people may not experience any symptoms while others may notice a small lump in the neck from slight swelling, have trouble swallowing or neck/throat pain. If you begin to experience these symptoms, please call one of our general surgeons at The Surgical Clinic.

Preparing for Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Your doctor will discuss with you the steps you should take to prepare for your surgery. These steps may include pausing medications such as aspirin or other blood thinners as well as some herbs and supplements. You will also be advised to not eat or drink anything for 12 hours before the surgery.

During Surgery

During your consultation, your doctor will walk you through the steps of your surgery.

First, you will be administered with an IV in the arm or hand that will provide your body with fluids and medication needed for the procedure. You’ll then be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free of pain throughout the surgery. An incision is then made at the bottom of your neck along a crease in your skin. Depending on how far the cancer spread, half of the thyroid gland may be taken out or in some cases, all of the gland is taken out. The surgeon may not know how much to take until the surgery begins. After the thyroid has been removed, the incision is then closed with sutures.

Post Surgery

Once the anesthesia has worn off, you will be advised to get up slowly and walk around. You may spend some time staying in the hospital or surgery center after the surgery. In most cases, you will be able to eat and drink the evening after your surgery. You will then be tested to make sure your parathyroid glands are working. The stress of surgery may stop them from working for a short time. If this happens, you may be given calcium pills for a few days. You may have a sore throat and a hoarse voice for a week or so after the surgery.

With all procedures, risks are possible. Some potential complications of this procedure may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to nerves in your voice box. This can lead to a hoarse voice.
  • Damage to the parathyroid glands or their blood supply.

If you feel a lump in your throat or are experiencing pain in the neck, we urge you to contact one of our seven endocrine specialists at The Surgical Clinic.

Find a Thyroid Surgeon near you:

Joshua T. Taylor, MD, Rutherford & Murfrees – boro Clinics

Trudie A Goers, MD, FACS Downtown Nashville Clinic

Gregory E. Neal, MD, FACS Skyline Clinic

K. Tyson Thomas, MD, FACS St. Thomas West Clinic

Patrick S. Wolf, MD, FACS St. Thomas West Clinic

Chad M. Moss, MD Columbia, TN Clinic

Mark S. Hinson, MD, FACS Columbia, TN Clinic