Thyroid cancer

About

Our thyroid cancer service sees, offers advice about, and treats thyroid and parathyroid disease. We investigate and treat large numbers of patients with goitre (swelling of the thyroid that causes a lump in the neck) and suspected or diagnosed thyroid cancer. We treat over 70 new and recurrent thyroid cancers per year as well as managing the follow-up care of several hundred more.

We are the only centre in the UK that can offer pioneering robotic assisted thyroid surgery and the volume of cancer patients treated by our thyroid surgeons is the highest in the UK. Our two dedicated thyroid surgeons, Mr Fausto Palazzo and Mr Neil Tolley, have a national and international reputation. They are the only two high-volume thyroid surgeons at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and their complication rates are as low as those in other specialist centres around the world. Our two surgeons are active contributors to the British Association of Endocrine and Thyroid Surgeons’ national database, where activity and results are monitored for quality set against national key performance indicators. The service personnel are of the very highest standards; the whole thyroid cancer multidisciplinary team (MDT) is fully compliant and has passed peer review.

The inpatient stay following thyroid surgery at our Trust is an average of one night, compared to the London average of three nights, so our patients are able to spend less time in hospital and more time recovering comfortably at home with the associated benefits.

Conditions and treatments

Thyroid cancer is a rare disease arising from the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck. The most common symptom of cancer of the thyroid is a painless lump or swelling that develops in your neck, but it may also cause changes to the voice or lymph node enlargement.

We see benign and malignant thyroid lumps both to address symptoms and to exclude malignancy. We address thyroid cancer with a joint surgical and endocrine oncological clinic. Our MDT is supported with cross-sectional imaging, isotope imaging, cytology, histopathology and specialist nurses of the highest standards.

Our service offers complete management of thyroid cancer. While not all patients with thyroid cancer will follow this treatment pathway, our most common treatments include:

  • Thyroidectomy: Partial or complete surgical removal of the thyroid gland. This is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer.
  • Radioiodine treatment: This is a treatment that usually follows thyroid surgery. A patient swallows radioactive iodine via a capsule or liquid and the radioactive iodine travels through the blood stream to the neck and destroys any cancer cells that may remain after surgery.
  • Referral to an endocrine clinic for functional thyroid disease and follow-up care: You may come to our clinic with a suspected malignancy (cancer) and discover that you do not have cancer. However, if you have functional thyroid disease, you will need to work with your doctor to manage your condition.

Patients who have had their thyroid removed have their thyroid hormone levels checked so that they are on the most appropriate replacement dose. This is important as they will require hormone replacement therapy for the rest of their lives. 

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