Surgical Oncology — Thyroid cancer
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for patients with tumors of the thyroid, the gland that regulates metabolism. We aim to provide minimally invasive surgery, prevention of disease recurrence and optimization of quality of life.
Your team of cancer specialists will include experts in endocrine surgery and surgical oncology, who closely collaborate with other health care professionals, including our surgical oncology clinical nurses, medical oncologists, radiologists and endocrinologists.
Thyroid tumors may be either benign or malignant. Your doctor will begin with an evaluation of your thyroid function using blood tests, and an examination of your thyroid using ultrasound. A fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy may be recommended to help determine the type of tumor and to assist your doctor in making a treatment recommendation.
Surgery is often performed as an outpatient or overnight procedure. Tumors of the thyroid are typically managed with minimally invasive surgery. All surgeries utilize real-time recurrent laryngeal nerve monitoring to help prevent injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve, the nerve to your voicebox.
Specific surgical techniques for thyroid cancer can include:
- Thyroid lobectomy: Removal of one-half of the thyroid gland.
- Total thyroidectomy: Removal of the entire thyroid gland.
- Minimally invasive thyroidectomy: Removal of part or all of the thyroid gland using a small (1.5- to 2-inch) incision. Patients undergoing a small-incision procedure may experience less pain and an improved cosmetic outcome than with the traditional open incision.
- Central neck lymph node dissection: Surgery to remove lymph nodes on either side of your trachea/windpipe. These lymph nodes are the most likely to harbor a cancer from an underlying thyroid malignancy.
- Modified radical neck dissection: Removal of the fat pad that contains the lymph nodes in the neck along the jugular vein and central neck. This procedure is considered “modified” because the surgeon attempts to preserve important muscles, nerves and blood vessels in the neck.
- Ultrasound-guided blue-dye localization of recurrent thyroid cancer: For patients with recurrent thyroid cancer, removing all sites of disease can be complicated. Injection of a blue dye with ultrasound can help our surgeons perform a targeted surgery to remove recurrent cancer while minimizing the risk.
The close collaboration among our doctors and research scientists means that new drugs and treatments developed in the laboratory can quickly move to the clinic, offering our endocrine cancer patients immediate access to the latest therapies.
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Campbell MJ, McCoy KL, Shen WT et al. A Multi-Institutional International Study of Risk Factors for Hematoma after Thyroidectomy. Surgery. 2013 Dec; 154 (6): 1283-91.
Campbell MJ, Seib C, Gosnell JE. Vandetanib and the management of advanced medullary thyroid cancer. Current Opinion in Oncology. 2013 Jan; 25(1):39-43.
Martinez SR, Beal S, Chen SL, Chen A, Schneider PD. Adjuvant external beam radiation for medullary thyroid carcinoma. Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2010 Aug.; 102(2):175-8.
Beal SH, Chen SL, Schneider PD, Martinez SR. An evaluation of lymph node yield and lymph node ratio in well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma. The American Surgeon. 2010 Jan.; 76(1):28-32.
Leggett MD, Chen SL, Schneider PD, Martinez SR. Prognostic value of lymph node yield and metastatic lymph node ratio in medullary thyroid carcinoma. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2008 Sept.; 15(9):2493-9.
Oncologists Specializing in Thyroid Cancers
Endocrine Surgery/Thyroid Surgery
Michael Campbell, M.D.
Arnaud F. Bewley, M.D.
D. Gregory Farwell, M.D.
Director, Head and Neck Oncology and Microvascular Surgery
Quang C. Luu, M.D.
Thomas J. Semrad, M.D., M.A.S.
Alison Semrad, D.O.