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Thyroidectomy has anyone any experience?(Long!!!)

(8 Posts)
macwoozy Sat 19-Jul-08 01:01:35

Hope someone might throw some light.

Had goitre for last 10 years after couple of months having an overactive thyroid. I think it was drug induced from my heart medication. For 10 years thyroid has been stable and goitre has been monitored by scans.

Went for yearly appt, just expecting the typical 'see you in a years time unless you see changes in size'. Instead I was offered a thyroidectomy. My goitre is not huge and cannot be seen unless you are aware of it. I was told that a scan cannot detect malignancy, only changes in size. She said that it would be hard to detect the cancer in my case,and that it would solve the problem if I actually had it removed.

BTY I had loads of throat e-xrays as a kid that increases the risk for thyroid cancer.

I've been bloody unlucky with my health lately but I would appreciate anybody with any info, good or bad as I'll only google anyway.

I think that if cancer was suspected then she'd have me in for treatment like a shot, so I guess the op would be a preventative measure.

If so, got loads of questions. Will I put on weight(doc said I was be put on thyroxine for life but I know that would be gradually done).

How about the scar? I don't want anymore!!! Especially on my neck, I get so self conscious and my scars turn myloid(Is that the word!!).

How long would I be in hospital? And can I look after my child straight away(Because I need to, no-one else can look after him, he's a bugger and has S.N's)

Anything else I need to know? What would you think if your doc gave you that option.

Oh and I have had biopsies in the past but she doesn't seem to want to take them again.

LaPaz Sat 19-Jul-08 01:50:02

I've just had a hemi-thyroidectomy (where they take out half the thyroid) because of a goitre so am a bit of an expert on this.

Had quite a large goitre in my neck, which wasn't noticeable unless you were looking for it. However a ultrasound scan showed that it was 5-6 cm diameter and growing, and I had another smaller one on the other side. Had loads and loads of fine needle tests / biopsies, but it is v difficult to detect cancerous cells by doing biopsies and basically having an operation is the only way to be sure.

The consultant I saw originally wanted to do a full thyroidectomy, which I wasn't too sure about because of the thyroxine issue. I didn't want to be having to take a drug every day of my life, and also getting the dosage correct always seems to be a pain.

But when I got referred to the actual surgeon who was doing the op (Mike Stearns) he advised just taking out half because the other half of the thyroid can compensate and still function normally. There is a small chance that it will go into shock and give up working, but almost all of the time it's fine so you don't have to take thyroxine. Mine is fine (actually waiting for blood test results on 2 month check up, but I feel fine so am sure all is well)

So I ended up having the whole goitre, and the half of the thyroid that it was stuck to, removed. The op was really straightforward - not much pain, one night in hospital only. Took high dose paracetemol for two days afterwards and that was that! Have got very neat scar (about 3 inches) which will fade away into imperceptible fine silver line in due course.

So my advice is to speak to your consultant again and mention the hemi-thyroidectomy option as personally, I would try to avoid taking thyroxine if you can. Not that it's bad, but its just a bugger to think you'd have to remmeber to take it every single day.

Hope that epic helps!

LaPaz Sat 19-Jul-08 01:53:53

PS: the consultant told me that even if it was cancerous, thyroid cancer is the absolute best cancer you could possibly have as it is very very slow moving (we're talking years here apparently).

PortAndLemon Sat 19-Jul-08 07:47:25

My brother had his thyroid removed after thyroid cancer nearly ten years ago.

He has put on a bit of weight, but not huge amounts (and he was 21 when he had it done, is 30 now, so would probably have filled out a bit in any case)

The scar was fairly obvious for a couple of years, but you can't really see it now (as it happens, I was looking at his neck last weekend and thinking that)

Because he had actual thyroid cancer he needed to be in for a while while they gave him radiotherapy with radioactive iodine, so not sure how long it would be without that.

There are four different types of thyroid cancer -- the two "best" ones to have (and the two most common) are really slow-developing and pretty easy to treat but the two others are nastier and more aggressive.

macwoozy Mon 21-Jul-08 09:04:15

I'm sorry it's taken a while to reply. My bloody computer wouldn't go online. Spent 45 mins on phone to Sky, eeeeek how much is that going to costangry

PortandLemon it's good to hear that your db is doing so well. Must have been a worrying time though. Can I ask how the cancer was detected in the first place? I'm not really worrying myself too much about the possibility of cancer, I'm sure they'd have me in now if that was really suspected, and the doc said I'll hear in about a month.

Thanks LaPaz for your epicsmile

A hemi-thyroidectomy is something I hadn't considered. And I think that could well be offered in my case because the goitre is on one side only. I can actually feel the round lump myself and measured it myself at about 6 cm, but I don't think it's growing. The doc didn't actually mention the hemi option though but I will certainly ask about it, thanks. TBH it was all abit of a surprise that she wanted to go down that route anyway after so long.

Were you able to move your neck O.K? I only ask because I need to be driving soon after otherwise my ds will be missing some school.

I'm not too bothered about taking thyroxine every day but my main concern is that I've heard that it's gradually introduced and I'm concerned about weight gain. But I guess if I had a hemi then that might not be a problem in the first place.

Hope your blood tests show everything to be working nicelysmile

LaPaz Mon 21-Jul-08 10:14:27

It took about 3 days before I really could move my neck properly. I was told you shouldn't really drive for a few days after the op - is there anyone else who could drop your ds off at school, or could the school help?

Kbear Mon 21-Jul-08 10:20:27

I had the same op as LaPaz. Before the surgery had two needle biopsies on the multi-nodular goitre which were benign but it was growing fast and they thought best to remove it sooner rather than later.

I had 6 weeks off work. I couldn't drive for about 5 weeks as I couldn't turn my head very well. I was in pain for a few days but then just soreness and bruising discomfort.

I had a toddler at the time and needed help really - not sure how you will manage with your child but you may need some help too.

My scar is practically invisible - I had metal clips not stitches and it hardly shows.

Good luck!

macwoozy Mon 21-Jul-08 11:16:13


I wasn't aware before now that the needle biopsies are not always effective in detecting the cancer. I really wish that the doctor had given me this information many years ago to allow me to make the choice. Not wait 10 years and then offer me this operation. I know vast majority of thyroid nodules are benign but even so.... My risk is also somewhat higher because of numerous throat x-rays I had as a child.

My dp can't get any time off work, well maybe a couple of days at a push but his boss is a tyrant and there's a lot of redundancies happening just now. Oh well I'll worry about that when the time comes.

Thanks for all your helpsmile

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