Diagnosis for Thyroid Cancer
- Thyroid ultrasound can examine whether there is excessive blood flow or calcification in the lump
- Fine needle aspiration
- Radioisotope scanning
- PET scan
Treatment for Thyroid Cancer
If the lump is suspected to be malignant tumour, traditional surgery or minimally invasive surgery may be performed after a biopsy is completed, depending on the results.
If the lump is only present on one side, the doctor may perform traditional partial thyroidectomy, which takes around 2 hours and performed under general anesthesia. The doctor will create an incision of around 4cm on the thyroid gland and directly remove one side of the thyroid glands. Patients may consume food after the surgery, and will be hospitalized for around 3 to 5 days. The doctor will then conduct a biopsy on the surgically removed thyroid gland. If proven to be malignant, the patient will need to have the other part of the thyroid gland removed. However, traditional thyroidectomy carries a risk of leaving unsightly scars.
In contrast, it the tumor size is less than 1.5 cm, they may consider endoscopic thyroidectomy. Endoscopic thyroidectomy will not leave behind unsightly scars. Performed under general anesthesia, the surgeon will first incise four tiny holes in the patient’s underarms and areola, with the largest one of 1.5 cm over the axilla and other three 5 mm incision around the areola. Equipment will then be placed inside the body through the incisions and remove the thyroid glands. A total thyroidectomy takes around 3.5 hours, while a partial thyroidectomy takes around 2.5 hours. Patients will be hospitalized for 3 to 5 days and may resume feeding and move around few hours after the surgery. As the underarms and areola wounds are barely noticeable, and the skin on the areola heals relatively quickly, patients will not be left with noticeable scars after the surgery. Patients who have undergone total thyroidectomy will also need to take Thyroxine as hormonal replacement. This is not necessary for patients who have undergone partial thyroidectomy.
To complete the cancer treatment, patient may need to receive radioactive iodine ablation treatment or even radiotherapy in some advance stage cancer. After surgery, patients will also need to take hormone replacements in the long term and attend regular medical checkups.
Risks of Treatment
- Usual surgical risks, including bleeding and infection.
- Damage to the parathyroid glands and cramping occurs more easily. However, this situation is rare.
- Laryngeal nerve damage, voice may become coarse, but this situation is rare.
Information provided by doctor is for educational purpose only. Please consult your doctor for treatments information if you are not feeling well. (Information is provided by Dr. Ronald Pak-Kin Ho)