Thyroid cancer represents only 1% of all human malignancies and more than 90% of endocrine tumors. It is pathologically classified into papillary, follicular, anaplastic oř medullary thyroid carcinomas.

Papillary thyroid carcinoma is the most common cancer of the thyroid gland.  It is more common in women than in men.  It may occur in childhood but is typically seen in people between the ages of 20 and 50. The cause of this cancer is unknown.  Some think that it is gene-related and it has been proven to run in families.  High-dose external radiation to the neck increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer.

Papillary thyroid cancer in children has also been linked to atomic bomb testing in the Marshall Islands and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 

Some patients have thyroid cancer that is found incidentally on x-rays or other scans.  They may not have any symptoms at all.  Other may have:  

  • Lump or growth in the thyroid gland
  • Changes in your voice
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Pain in your neck or throat

Once you or your provider suspect you have thyroid disease, the first step is to have an ultrasound scan. This step is very important to determine if you have suspicious nodules.

The next and most important step is to have a fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy.  FNA  is a pivotal tool for thyroid nodule evaluation and determines if you have thyroid cancer or not.

If you have any of these symptoms or feel that you are developing thyroid issues please consult with your primary care doctor. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist called an endocrinologist.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer

What are your options for thyroid cancer treatment!

There are four types of treatment for thyroid cancer

  • Surgery is the first line of treatment that may be done to remove as much of cancer as possible.  In most cases, the entire thyroid gland is removed.  
  • External radiation may be used if surgery is not an option for the patient. It is most often used to treat advanced medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
  • Radioactive iodine treatment is administered to many patients postoperatively to kill any remaining thyroid tissue.
  • Radiofrequency thyroid ablation is reserved for managing small thyroid carcinoma or treating advanced, recurrent, or metastatic thyroid cancer.

Thyroid medication becomes essential especially after thyroid surgery, radiation, and radioactive iodine. The patient will need to take thyroid pills for the rest of their life to replace the hormone that the thyroid would normally make.

Radiofrequency ablation of thyroid cancer may be the only option in which you can reserve the function your thyroid gland and avoid life term thyroid medications 

Thyroid cancer treatment between these options depends on your cancer size/stage, pathological type, lymph node involvement, patient’s general health conditions and your doctor’s recommendations.

What are the drawbacks of thyroid cancer treatment with surgery (Thyroidectomy)?

Surgery is the standard treatment for patients with primary thyroid carcinoma, followed by radioactive iodine therapy and/or thyroid hormone therapy. Surgery will require removing half or the whole thyroid gland. Therefore you will lose at least part of the thyroid. It is only done with general anesthesia and requires at least one night stay at the hospital.

There is a longer recovery time following surgery. 

You will have a postoperative neck scar. In addition to the risk of associated general anesthesia.

Also, there is a risk of potential damage to the vocal cord nerve that controls your voice.

Accidental removal or damaging your parathyroid glands can lead to disturbance in your calcium blood level. 

Can anyone get thyroid cancer treatment without surgery?

For certain groups of patients who are classified as ineligible/high risk/refuse surgery, ultrasound (US)-guided ablation techniques, such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or ethanol ablation( EA) are recommended.

RFA ablation technique is safe and effective for eradication of small focus of papillary thyroid carcinoma. The RFA probe induces irreversible heat damage and causes death to cancer cells. RFA can be curative and or palliative in recurrent thyroid cancers at the thyroid bed site or for metastatic cervical lymph nodes.

RFA has been utilized on a case by case basis for patients with inoperable medullary or anaplastic carcinoma. It is used as palliative therapy for shrinking the cancer mass.

Advantages of choosing radiofrequency ablation for thyroid cancer treatment over surgery?

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is a very safe procedure with minimal risk. The whole RFA procedure is done through a small needle puncture into your neck. No postoperative scar or suture. 

It is an outpatient procedure that typically takes 30-45 minutes depending on the nodule size.

It is  performed under local anesthesia so you can avoid all complications related to general anesthesia 

No downtime and you can resume your normal activity the day after your. 

No need for life term hormone replacement medications.


Learn more about the treatment of thyroid cancer without surgery by performing Radiofrequency ablation treatment 

About the possible complications or side effects of thyroid cancer treatment performing radiofrequency ablation?

As with any medical procedure, there is some inherited risk however RFA has a very low complication rate and much lower side effects compared to surgery.

 Some reported risks are:

  • Temporary hoarseness
  • Minor skin bruise
  • Burn at needle entry site
  • Minimal bleeding
  • Nodule rupture
  • Wound infection

What types of thyroid cancer can be managed by RFA?

  1. Low-risk papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) , in which cancer ≤ 10 mm in diameter
  2. Recurrent thyroid cancer such as Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)
  3. Advanced Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer
  4. Metastatic  thyroid cancer to the neck lymph nodes 

How long does it take to recover from radiofrequency ablation treatment of thyroid cancer?

The RFA procedure is approximately 30-45 minutes long, depending on your cancer size. It is done at our center as an office-based procedure under local anesthesia. You can go to work or resume your normal.

About our approach to thyroid cancer treatment

Prior to your RFA you will have a consultation appointment with Dr. Elshenawy. 

She will perform an office ultrasound scan of your nodule and review your fine needle biopsy result.  She will determine if another FNA prior to RFA is required or not. 

She will explain in detail the RFA procedure, benefits, risks , possible outcomes and alternative options. Limited blood work panel for thyroid functions and coagulation factors before RFA will be required.You will have time to ask all your questions and address your inquiries. 

On your RFA day, you will come to our center to fill all paperwork needed.

  • You will change your clothes into disposable gowns. No jewelry, body piercing, or metalware can be worn.
  • The patient is able to breathe and talk the entire time. you will be able to converse with the doctor during the procedure.
  • Two grounding pads will be attached to the front of your thighs.
  •  Your neck will be cleaned with a skin antiseptic. Then under sterile conditions marks will be placed on your skin to demarcate parts of the nodule. The patient’s head will rest on a small cushion and their eyes will be covered with a mask.
  • Your heart rate, blood pressure, and voice are monitored during the entire RFA. 
  • First, your doctor will place a local anesthetic under the skin in the front of the neck and surrounding the thyroid gland.
  • Second, using the same entry neck puncture, a thin probe will pass into your neck targeting your thyroid mass. The RFA will start by ablating the deeper and posterior portion of your mass then proceed to superficial and anterior portions of your nodule.
  • A Popping sound will be heard during RFA as the tissue is sequentially and successfully being ablated.
  • After your ablation, an ice pack will be placed on your neck and you will be monitored for approximately 30 minutes then you will go home.
  • You will be given over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen( Tylenol) for inflammation after RFA. 

The day after RFA your neck will be mildly sore but you will be able to resume all your normal activity. You will be advised to refrain from extra strenuous activities for 48 hours if possible.

Why OCC thyroid center for your thyroid cancer treatment?

  • OCC thyroid center is accredited by the College of American Pathologists(CAP). A technique at our center is safe and FDA-approved.  
  • Our providers are USA boarded, MD & ECNU certified providers with three doctors who have performed more than 10,000 thyroid interventional procedures including  FNA  biopsies, ethanol ablation, and RFA. 
  • Our center has been established since 1991 and is considered a national leader in thyroid diagnosis. We have the newest and the highest quality medical equipment.
  • Treatment for your thyroid cancer focus or metastatic lymph nodes is performed by our experienced physicians. We only ablate and target your cancerous nodule.
  • We provide a thyroid cancer treatment without surgery for low-risk papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC), recurrent thyroid cancers, or for metastatic cervical lymph nodes.
  • Our center has a patient’s centered approach and devotion to our patients, as we know each patient’s condition is unique. Additionally, RFA  procedures at our OCC center are more cost-effective than hospital-based procedures as we have no facility fee charge. 

Regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its health implications, we offer an online reservation to help you get the care you need in a safe way