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Surgery is the most common treatment for cancer of the thyroid gland. The type of surgery used to remove the tumor depends on its size and location. Your doctor may also remove some of the tissue and lymph nodes around the gland to make sure all the cancer is removed.
During surgery, your doctor makes an incision a few inches long in the lower neck, where the thyroid gland is located. Afterward, most people stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days.
The main types of surgery for thyroid cancer are:
Lobectomy In a lobectomy, your doctor removes the side (lobe) of the thyroid containing cancer. This surgery treats small cancers that have not spread outside the thyroid.
Thyroidectomy A thyroidectomy removes more of the thyroid gland and is the most common thyroid cancer surgery. In addition to taking out the tumor, different types of thyroidectomy remove different amounts of surrounding tissue.
Lymph node removal If the cancer invades lymph nodes, your doctor may remove them during surgery for the tumor. This is also known as neck dissection.
Radioactive iodine therapy Doctors often give a special type of radiation therapy after thyroid cancer surgery. The treatment relies on the fact that your thyroid gland cells normally absorb iodine to make thyroid hormone. By providing radioactive iodine, doctors can reach new or remaining cancer cells and destroy them.