Thyroid Cancer / Nodules & Hyperthyroidism Expert Forum
recovery from and is thyroid surgery necessary
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Questions in the Thyroid forum are answered by Mark Lupo, MD. Topics covered include Goiter, Graves Disease, Hyperthyroid, Parathyroid/Calcium Problems, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroid Nodules/Cysts, Thyroiditis, Thyroid & Pregnancy, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Thyroid Tests, and Thyroid Surgery.

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recovery from and is thyroid surgery necessary

Hi there! I am new to all of this. I was diagnosed with a goiter last month. I had to have 2 biopsy's because the nodule came back right after the first FNA. Both were benign. I noticed tonight that I felt some throbbing below my chin? My surgeon wants me to have the lobe removed. Any thoughts? What is the recovery from surgery like? I am an avid runner and athlete. How long will I be out of commission? I am scared about this surgery. I have no family support, but I have friends. My dad died from cancer 2 years ago. That was the last time I was at a hospital. Any thoughts or advice from anyone?
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I am kind of new at this too.  I've had problems with a goiter off and on for several years and recently I got a 2cm nodule which was removed by FNA and they said it looked "suspicious" and I am supposed to have one lobe removed at the end of the month.  I lost both parents to other kinds of cancer and I also am pretty active.  I'm ticked that I take care of myself and this still happened.  It will probably turn out to be an "ounce of prevention" situation for you, but don't be afraid to follow up with a second opinion.  I plan to run all this by my GP to see what she says.  I'll keep you in the prayers.  Nice to know I'm not alone in this. Post how you're doing.
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Avatar_n_tn
Awww, thanks for your response. I think having a parent who died from cancer makes all this more upsetting. I feel for you too. I was wondering; what was your recovery like from your first surgery. Doesn't it stink that we take care of ourselves and still have to deal with this issue. I have been dancing and working out since I was 18. I am now 34. This is also hard because I am a therapist in my own practice. So I have to help all of my patients deal with my absence as well. UGH!!!! Keep writing.
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97953_tn?1193367871
Thyroid surgery is recommended primarily for 1) enlarging goiters (generic term for big thyroid - with or without nodules) that cause compression of surrounding areas (ie, choking, strangulation symtpoms, hoarseness, cough, throat clearing, etc - of course there are other causes of these symptoms). 2) suspicious nodules 3) definite thyroid cancer 4) cosmetically concerning goiters.

In your case, 2 benign FNA's (esp if done under ultrasound guidance) suggest a low level of cancer risk.  By "came back" after FNA - do you mean cyst fluid was drained and it re-accumulated? or did the nodule grow.  A growing nodule despite negative FNAs may be cause for removal - esp if it is causing symptoms.  Only you and your doctors (both thyroid specialist AND surgeon) can decided this.

There is nothing you did or could have done yourself to cause/prevent the nodules - they simply happen (for reasons we are still trying to understand).  The recovery time is about 7-10 days but you are back on your feet in most cases 1-2 days post-op.

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Avatar_n_tn
I had thyroid surgery on July 25 to remove one lobe -- I had a nodule that had been monitored for a couple of years by ultrasound and bloodwork.  This past year I noticed some trouble swallowing and almost continous hoarseness. The ultrasound revealed that the nodule had grown substantially. A needle biopsy was inclusive, but that the cells were "lining up in a suspicious manner".  So I opted for the surgery.
I was in the hospital overnight. The pain was manageable - sort of like having strep throat - if you know what I mean.  The incision was sore, but not terrible.
Now, I have to disagree with Dr. Mark about recovery time: I was pretty weak for several days. I was out of work (office job) two and a half weeks, then went back half-days for a week. I was told to take it easy for about 4 weeks after surgery: no heavy lifting, etc.  I am just this week (5 weeks postop) getting back to the gym.
Once in a while I can feel my remaining lobe "recalibrating itself" to make up for the absence of the other lobe: hot flashes, palpitations, dizziness, etc. But it never lasts long.
Next week I go in for lab work to see what my thyroid hormone levels are, but I don't anticipate having to take medication.
My advice is: if you do have the surgery, take it easy afterward as long as possible.  You won't regret it.  
Good luck and keep us posted.
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97953_tn?1193367871
"recovery time" is subjective - full activities usually resume in 2-3 weeks, but most of my patients (note, I am not the surgeon) - return to work involving light physical activity within 7-14 days -- of course heavy physical labor will take longer - it also depends upon extent of surgery, complications, etc.....
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Avatar_n_tn
I appreciate all these responses. I am wondering if my surgeon is jumping too quickly into surgery? I have an appt. for a 2nd opinion. But, should I also see an endocronologist? My thyroid levels are normal. When I went for a 2nd biopsy 2 weeks later it was for a reaccumulation of fluid. The nodule seems to be the same size and is still there even after the second biopsy. What does that mean?

I want to make sure I am not jumping into unecessary surgery. So far, I have no pain. I did feel a slight throbbing right above the nodule yesterday, but don't even know if that is related? When you say no activities for about 4 weeks, are you talking about all kinds of fitness; like running, biking and aerobics?

A lot of people on this sight seemed to have watched the nodule for months or even a couple of years before surgery. I wonder why my surgeon is jumping for a surgery in the next 2 months? Any thoughts on that?
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97953_tn?1193367871
tough to give specific recommendations in your situation - most patients can return to exercise in 2-3 weeks in my experience with surgeons here - it may vary in your case.  Seeing an endocrinologist is recommended.  If there were 2 adequate FNAs and no suspicious findings, then watching is usually okay in absence of symptoms from the nodule/cyst --- this advice is general and not a substitute for local evaluation by your physician.
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Avatar_n_tn
I will definately challenge the surgeon when I see him to the benefit of doing this procedure so soon after diagnosis. He didn't seem surprised at all that both biopsy's came back benign. I don't have any problems, except I feel some throbbing every so often right above the nodule? Is that common? I will definately see an endocronologist. I wonder if he is pushing for surgery because I only have one nodule? I know that can cause concern. I feel so confused and scared about all of this. A part of me wants to just have the surgery and get it over with. But another part of me feels terrified and sad about doing this now. I have such a hard time trusting doctors; etc due to my experiences growing up. I am also a trauma survivor and do not want to do anything that will set me back in my recovery.....
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Avatar_n_tn
I don't really know what advice to give, what I can tell you is that I had my thyroid completely removed a year ago.  I had thyroid cancer, my biopsy came back benign but the cells looked suspicious.  I was in the hospital for 2 1/2 days and was really weak for several months.  I have been on levothyroxine (thyroid hormone replacement) for about 9 months and I still feel like ****!  I'm sure it goes on a case by case basis though.  The only positive thing about the surgery is that the cancer was removed and treated.
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97953_tn?1193367871
Mark Lupo, M.D.Blank
Thyroid & Endocrine Center of Florida
Sarasota, FL
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