Michael, male, 60, Massachusetts
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Severe laryngitis led to a scan of my neck, revealing a nodule on one side of my thyroid gland. Nodules of suspicious size – greater than 1 cm – are frequently discovered through physical examination by patient or physician. A subsequent scan at a thyroid clinic revealed two suspicious nodules and a needle biopsy – uncomfortable not painful – gave strong indication of thyroid cancer. Consultations followed with my GP, an endocrinologist (thyroid cancer is the province of this specialty, not oncologists) and then referral to a surgeon. Of prime importance was identifying a surgeon experienced in this procedure. My first question in interviewing the surgeon was “how often do you perform this procedure.” A reassuring “200 times a year” was the response.
Thyroid cancer does not present the patient with a range of treatment options. Generally, the choice is full or partial thyroidectomy, and in my case, with nodules on both sides, total removal was the only course. Surgery was far less stressful than the weeks of anticipation. The procedure was done under general anesthesia. They removed the thyroid gland from the lower front of the neck. I awoke with a sore throat and an ugly wound on my neck. I stayed overnight in the hospital. Sleeping was uncomfortable because of restricted movement of my neck. Five days later, the sore throat is minimal and the incision is healing well with little discomfort, although sneezing is painful. The results of the general anesthetic lingered for several days and the stretching and cutting of the neck resulted in migraine-like headaches which should last no more than a week.
I am now one of a substantial number of men and women who take thyroid hormone tablets daily with little or no side effects. The future may require occasional, non-invasive, testing to see that malignant cells have not migrated elsewhere in my body, but the overall result is that I can now look forward to many years of watching my grandchildren grow.
Of prime importance is identifying a surgeon experienced in this procedure. My first question in interviewing the surgeon was “how often do you perform this procedure.” A reassuring “200 times a year” was his response.
- posted by HealthAngle July 8, 2007
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