Surgery is the main treatment for all types of thyroid cancer and is used in nearly every case, except anaplastic thyroid cancer.
- Lobectomy - Lobectomy is the removal of only the affected side of the thyroid gland. If you have a papillary cancer that is smaller than 1 centimeter (about ½ inch) and there is no sign that it has spread beyond the thyroid gland, the surgeon may perform a lobectomy.
- Thyroidectomy - The surgeon removes most or all of the thyroid gland.
- Near-total (sub-total) - This is the most common type of surgery for thyroid cancer. Because papillary thyroid cancer is often located in both left and right sides of the thyroid gland (multifocal) and because follicular cancer is more aggressive, most surgeons will remove nearly all of the thyroid gland. However, the surgeon leaves small amounts of tissue around the parathyroid glands (which produce a hormone that helps control the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body) to reduce the risk of damage to these glands.
- Total- 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 - If you have a near-total (sub-total) or total thyroidectomy, your surgeon might also perform a 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 medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) from spreading or coming back after treatment (recurring).
- 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.
- 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.
This content has been reviewed and approved by Myo Thant, MD.