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Do I need the second surgery?

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2010

I was recently been diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma after a 3.8 cm tumor and the right lobe of my thyroid was removed on December 16, 2009. The ultrasound and needle biopsy couldn't determine if the tumor was benign or malignant, so the doctors recommended surgery to have it removed. I got the cancer diagnosis just a few days before Christmas.

Now my surgeon recommends I have a second surgery to remove the remaining left lobe of my thyroid, and then possibly go through the radioactive iodine treatment. After that I will have to go on synthroid for the rest of my life.

The second surgery has been cancelled and rescheduled twice so far for different reasons. It has rescheduled now for early March and I am anxious and apprehensive, as well as emotionally and mentally unprepared for a second surgery. I've been crying non-stop these past few days; I don't want to go through this again. Also, my surgeon has also told me that I can chose NOT to have the second surgery, and instead chose to monitor the left lobe of my thyroid with annual ultrasounds and needle biopsies if any suspicious nodules develop.

I understand that the size of my tumor and my age (49) puts me into an intermediate risk group. I also understand thyroid cancer is slow growing, so I am most likely not in immediate danger right now, but I do need to make a decision about this second surgery quickly. I feel very conflicted and am at a loss about how to make an informed and educated decision. I am a single woman with no family nearby and these past few months I've felt even more alone trying to process my cancer diagnosis while making decisions about my health at the same time.

If anybody has suggestions and/or other information that might be helpful, I would really appreciate hearing from you!

And a big thank you to all for the honest and moving stories about thyroid cancer, especially the comments about doctors telling us that if we were going to chose a cancer this is the most favorable cancer to have. This is exactly what I heard too. Crazy thing to say to a patient. It's still cancer.

Posts: 7
Joined: Mar 2010

I'm 59 female, pap thyroid cancer. 1st surgery 2/22/10. All fnas showed nodule as non-cancerous. I'm the one that insisted they remove the right side thyroid nodule while they removed a lipoma (fatty tissue lump) from the left side of my neck (the lipoma made my neck look lumpy). I found out Monday 3/1/10 at post-op appt. that it was a 2.3 cm Stage 2 nodule w/cancer. ENT recommended removal of remaining lobe. I went for 2nd opinion on Tuesday 3/2/10 with Endo he said if it is going to come back it will come back in the remaining thyroid lobe. I scheduled surgery for 4/12/10. I was angry that they didn't take the whole thing when they were in there! I signed off for them to do it. But--while they waited for pathology to check the nodule (20 minutes) they didn't hear any negative--so they proceeded to close me up. They didn't get the FULL pathology report until the 3 days AFTER surgery. This is not fun--but I don't want it to come back and spread. It can go into the lung and other areas and then we're talking chemo and other surgeries. This surgery was MUCH EASIER than the hysterectomy I had 10 years ago (I took off 9 weeks for that). I could have gone back to work last week but I waited an extra week to wrap my head around the cancer diagnosis and to get some extra rest to heal properly. Let me know what you decide.

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2010

My surgeon also had permission to remove my whole thyroid if necessary, but they couldn't tell in the operating room if it was cancerous. After surgery my doctor thought it was benign even though she warned me the chance of cancer still existed. And they were only able to determine the tumor was cancer after the pathology report about a week after my surgery.

The tumor was large, 3.8 cm and multifocal. I understand this combined with my age classifies me as having Stage 2 cancer. I also understand the risk of recurrence in the remaining lobe is higher if the thyroid is still there.

I know my resistance to having another surgery is largely about not wanting to undergo another surgery. And I'm scared of the thyroid medicine afterwards too. This whole experience has been so unsettling and frightening. You make a good point about the possibility of recurrence and the subsequent surgeries being more invasive and life threatening. I'll probably decide to have the second surgery eventually. I just don't feel ready to have it this Wednesday! But then again, will I ever feel ready?

Thanks again for your comments! I really appreciate your response. I'm so glad I found this site. I've been feeling very alone with all of this so it's great to read about other people's experiences.

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