Thyroid cancer is an abnormal growth of the cells of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck just below the voice box (larynx). Thyroid gland secretes hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism and levels of calcium. Thyroid cancer is more common in women than men. People who are exposed to high levels of radiation to the neck and have a family history of thyroid cancer and goiter (enlargement of thyroid gland) are at a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer.
Generally, surgery involving thyroid gland removal is the most common treatment of thyroid cancer. Total thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all of the thyroid gland. Subtotal or partial thyroidectomy is a surgery to remove part of the thyroid gland. Your doctor may also remove the lymph nodes if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon removes the thyroid gland by making a 3-inch to 4-inch incision in the middle of your neck, on top of the thyroid gland. A small tube (catheter) will be placed into the area to drain the accumulated blood and fluids.
Neck dissection is a procedure performed to excise the lymph nodes of the neck affected by cancer. Lymph node excision is an important step in cancer treatment as cancer cells can enter the lymphatic fluid and spread to other parts of the body.
Neck dissection is performed under general anesthesia. There are different types of neck dissections based on the spread of the cancer.
Like all procedures, neck dissection may be associated with certain complications such as nerve damage in the lip and tongue, limited neck movement, difficulty in breathing, swallowing and talking, allergic reactions to anesthesia, infection and bleeding. You may also experience numbness of the skin and ear, and drooping and difficulty in lifting your shoulder on the side of the dissection.
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