Surgery to remove the thyroid is the treatment of choice for thyroid cancer. At NYU, patients having a thyroidectomy have the procedure in a day hospital setting, which is pleasant and comfortable for them and for their families. Patients are typically discharged from the hospital within 23 hours of admission.
During the surgery, endocrine surgeons work closely with anesthesiologists who are experienced in caring for patients having thyroid surgery. The surgical team performs electronic monitoring of the recurrent laryngeal nerve during the procedure to reduce the risk of nerve injury. (Injury to this nerve can cause hoarseness.)
After surgery, patients continue to see their doctors regularly for follow-up. Many patients require one treatment with a radioactive iodine pill about one month after surgery to destroy any thyroid cells that may remain after surgery. Chemotherapy is almost never required. Most patients then take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of their lives to maintain normal thyroid function.