Surgery for Endocrine and Thyroid Cancers

Surgery is often the first approach to treating endocrine cancer. Most endocrine and thyroid cancers need surgical removal.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center endocrine surgeons have training in many novel procedures — including minimally invasive surgical techniques — to remove cancerous and noncancerous tumors.

The Endocrine and Thyroid Cancer Care Program leads the nation in complete and innovative treatment of this family of diseases.

Our commitment to advancing and using the latest surgical techniques ensures that your care is in expert hands.

Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery for Endocrine Cancers

Open surgical approaches often leave people with visible scars and longer recovery times. Today, we can remove many endocrine tumors with minimally invasive and robotic surgical techniques.

Compared to other methods, minimally invasive and robotic endocrine cancer surgery:

  • Allows for a quicker return to normal daily activities.
  • Uses smaller incisions.
  • Shortens your hospital stay.
  • Greatly reduces post-op pain.

Robotic surgery allows greater precision by using:

  • A 3D image processing system.
  • A camera arm that allows the surgeon to see a magnified, high definition view of the procedure.
  • Interactive mechanical arms with joints that follow the surgeon's hand motions.

Open Endocrine Cancer Surgery

Many people can benefit from minimally invasive and robotic surgery. But some endocrine tumors are too large, too hard to reach, or too involved with nearby structures for these methods.

In these cases, our surgeons perform traditional open surgery, taking care to keep incisions as small as possible.

For cancers of the neck, we are extra careful to preserve as much function as possible for speaking, breathing, and swallowing.

Surgical Specialty Care for Endocrine Cancers

Our surgeons are experts in the removal of both cancerous and noncancerous tumors.

Because the endocrine system is so complex, we offer specialty cancer care.

Expert surgical treatment of adrenal cancer

People who have adrenal cancer often need a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment.

Our adrenal cancer surgeons specialize in:

  • Adrenal venous sampling to assess select functional tumors.
  • Minimally invasive and retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy.

Expert surgical treatment of parathyroid cancer

Research shows performance of parathyroid surgery by high-volume surgeons results in improved outcomes.

At UPMC, our endocrine surgeons perform more than 400 parathyroid surgeries each year. Our failure rate is consistently among the lowest in publication.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center validated the technique of intra-operative parathyroid hormone testing.

Many centers use one criterion to check that surgeons have removed all abnormal parathyroid glands. We use two.

Our parathyroid cancer experts have special training in:

  • Video-assisted and minimally invasive parathyroid surgery.
  • Intra-operative parathyroid hormone testing to ensure removal of all abnormal parathyroid glands.
  • Ultrasound and nuclear medicine localization of parathyroid tumors.
  • Parathyroid tissue removal during surgery to test parathyroid glands, saving time and costs.

Surgery for Thyroid Cancer

The main treatment for most thyroid cancers is surgery to remove the entire thyroid.

Factors that will dictate the extent of your surgery and need for further treatment include:

  • The size of the tumor.
  • The type of thyroid cancer.
  • Lymph node involvement.

Our thyroid cancer team performs more than 600 surgeries each year. Research has shown that higher volumes lead to better results.

We also offer the most advanced thyroid molecular testing available. As leaders in this area, our research has reduced the need for surgery to diagnose thyroid nodules worldwide.

Our thyroid cancer team specializes in:

  • Cervical lymph node dissection.
  • Minimally invasive thyroid surgery.
  • Intra-operative ultrasound lymph node mapping for treating locally aggressive and recurrent thyroid cancers.
  • Postoperative radioactive iodine ablation for thyroid cancer to reduce recurrence.
  • State-of-the-art diagnostics, including ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration of thyroid nodules.
  • Phase I clinical trials for advanced thyroid cancers.

Contact Us About Endocrine and Thyroid Cancer

To learn more about Endocrine and Thyroid or to make an appointment, you can: