An endocrinologist is usually the type physician used to coordinate the care of thyroid cancer.
Follicular thyroid cancer involves several different steps and an endocrinologist will be able to guide your treatment program so that at each stage you see the most appropriate consultant.
The first step in the treatment of suspected follicular thyroid cancer is a total or near-total thyroidectomy. This type of operation can be tricky and you want to make sure you are referred to a surgeon with a lot of experience in thyroid surgery.
Once the thyroid is removed, the diagnosis of follicular thyroid cancer must be confirmed. This type of thyroid cancer, unlike the more common thyroid cancer, papillary thyroid cancer, cannot be accurately diagnosed by a fine needle aspiration. This is the procedure when a doctor puts a needle into a thyroid nodule and draws out some cells. Fine needle aspiration can only be used to diagnose a follicular tumor. A follicular tumor may be either benign or cancerous. A surgical specimen is required to determine that the tumor is cancerous and has the ability to spread to other sites.
When the diagnosis of follicular thyroid cancer is confirmed surgically, and the thyroid has been removed, the next step in the treatment is radioactive iodine (I-131). This is used to kill off any remaining thyroid cancer cells.
Once the thyroid has been removed and destroyed, scans and blood tests can be used to check for recurrence.
After surgery and radioiodine ablation, thyroid cancer patients are given thyroid hormone replacement to replace the hormone and prevent any thyroid growth.
An endocrinologist will be able to support you through this entire process.
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