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Surgery is the primary form of treatment for most thyroid cancers, and total thyroidectomy is the most common surgical approach. The entire thyroid gland is removed during a total thyroidectomy, including both lobes and the isthmus that connects them. Surrounding lymph nodes are often removed during this procedure, as well.

Total thyroidectomy does not disturb the surrounding parathyroid glands or laryngeal nerves. If the surgeon is able to excise most but not all of the thyroid, the procedure is referred to as a near-total thyroidectomy.

When is a total thyroidectomy necessary?

Each patient’s optimal course of thyroid cancer treatment will depend on several factors, such as the cancer’s specific type, symptoms and stage. Total thyroidectomy is often recommended when:

  • The cancer is larger than 4 centimeters or has affected both lobes.
  • The cancer has spread (metastasized) beyond the thyroid.
  • The cancer developed as a result of radiation exposure.
  • An aggressive form of cancer is present, such as medullary thyroid cancer or Hurthle cell cancer.
  • The patient wishes to take a preventive approach to thyroid cancer treatment although total thyroid removal may not be required.

The thyroid is an important gland that helps regulate several bodily functions by releasing a steady stream of hormones. Because of this, patients who undergo total thyroidectomy surgery must be on a lifelong regimen of thyroid hormone pills. Conversely, removing the entire thyroid (as opposed to one lobe, such as during a thyroid lobectomy) reduces the likelihood of cancer recurrence and allows for simpler cancer screenings in the future.

Total thyroidectomy surgery at Moffitt

The expertise of the surgeon plays a key role in the success of a total thyroidectomy. That’s why so many patients turn to Moffitt Cancer Center for thyroid cancer surgery. As a high-volume cancer center, our renowned head and neck surgeons have a unique level of experience performing complex total thyroidectomies and removing tumors that were once deemed inoperable.

Contact Moffitt at 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online if you would like to speak with a Moffitt physician regarding total thyroidectomy surgery and other treatment options that may be available to you.