If you have Stage I or II medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), you will be treated with total thyroidectomy. If your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes (tiny bean-shaped organs throughout the body that help fight infections), your doctor might recommend that you have a modified radical or radical neck dissection in addition to the thyroidectomy.
- Total thyroidectomy - The surgeon removes the entire thyroid, and sometimes nearby lymph nodes, through an incision in the neck. In some rare cases, the surgeon also takes out other tissues in the neck that have been affected by the cancer.
- Neck dissection - The surgeon removes lymph nodes in the front and side of the neck that may contain cancer. Neck dissection is sometimes the best way to prevent MTC from spreading or coming back after treatment (recurring).
- Modified radical - The surgeon removes all of the lymph nodes on one side of the neck from the lower edge of the jaw to the upper edge of the collarbone. However, the surgeon does not take out sections of muscle, nerve, and the large veins in the neck.
- Radical - The surgeon removes all of the lymph nodes on one side of the neck from the lower edge of the jaw to the upper edge of the collarbone. The surgeon also takes out sections of muscle, nerve, and the large veins in the neck.
Regardless of the type of surgery you had, you will be treated with thyroid hormone after surgery. However, if your doctor plans to treat you with radioactive iodine, you might not start taking thyroid hormone until after you finish your radioactive iodine treatments.
- Thyroid hormone replacement - These pills can give your body the natural thyroid hormone it can no longer make on its own. The generic name of the hormone is levothyroxine sodium. It is sold as Synthroid®, Levoxyl®, Levothroid®, Unithroid®, and other brand names.