Neck Ultrasounds at Accent Endocrinology
There are approximately 52,000 new cases of thyroid cancer expected to be diagnosed in the US in 2020 making it the 8th most common cancer in the US. Almost three-quarters of these patients are women. Fortunately, 98% of those diagnosed with thyroid cancer are alive 5 years from diagnosis and fewer than 2200 patients die of thyroid cancer each year.
Anyone is at risk for thyroid cancer, especially women between 25 and 65 years old and those with a family history of thyroid disease or an enlarged thyroid. Possible symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
The good news for patients with thyroid cancer is that painless, non-invasive, and highly effective ultrasound technology is being implemented pre-surgery to increase the success rate of the initial operation to rid the body of cancerous tissue and post-surgery to help with early detection and surveillance of recurrent/persistent cancers.
Doctors use ultrasound technology frequently to monitor the condition of the thyroid gland and check for signs that the cancer has spread prior to the initial surgery. This kind of testing is called a pre-operative ultrasound and creates real-time images of the patient’s lymph nodes and surrounding structures. Enlarged or abnormal lymph nodes may require biopsy to help determine if they need to be surgically removed or if unequivocally abnormal may change to degree of surgery required. Other abnormalities may guide the need for other imaging needed prior to surgery. In fact studies have found that over 30% of surgeries were altered with improved outcomes secondary to pre-operative ultrasound.
After a patient has undergone surgery where their thyroid (or the cancerous tissue in the thyroid) has been removed, neck ultrasounds are essential in monitoring for potential and known recurrences in high risk cases. The Post-operative neck ultrasound remains an important tool for monitoring for recurrence in lymph nodes or the thyroid bed in high risk patients and for following low risk of spread recurrences that do not require intervention.