Thyroidectomy: Life without a thyroid


What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland can be found at the front of the neck under the larynx. A functional thyroid produces hormones that control the body’s metabolism as well as the heart, digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood, and bone maintenance. Having an issue with your thyroid can lead to an array of health problems.

What is a thyroidectomy?

A thyroidectomy is the removal of the thyroid gland. Performed through a small horizontal incision in the front of the neck, the procedure is minimally invasive.

Why would you need this surgery?

There are several reasons why your doctor might feel you need a thyroidectomy. The reasons are as follows:

  • Having an overactive thyroid.
  • Indeterminate or suspicious thyroid nodules.
  • Noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid.
  • Thyroid cancer.

Thyroid cancer is the most common reason for a thyroidectomy. Most cases of thyroid cancer result in the removal of a large portion, if not all, of the thyroid.

Life after a thyroidectomy

The degree to which your life would change after a thyroidectomy varies depending on how much of the thyroid was removed. Some people experience neck pain or a weak voice in the days or weeks after, but this improves over a time. Your doctors will recommend that you temporarily refrain from strenuous physical activity. If you had a partial thyroidectomy, the remaining portions should take over normal thyroid functions. For those who have had a complete removal, they will need to take a synthetic hormone replacement every day.

Whether you are doing research for yourself or for a loved one, explore our extensive resources for support in your journey, and delve into our various articles for more information about thyroid cancer. A significant focus of the THANC Foundation’s work is dedicated to supporting and conducting research, as well as delivering factual information about thyroid, head, and neck cancer. This includes publishing current research, offering guidance throughout the cancer journey, and explaining medical concepts in an easily understandable format.

30 Stories in 30 Days

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. For the next 4 weeks, we will post stories written by thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers and friends for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.