Why Neck Lymph Nodes Need to be looked at BEFORE the first thyroid cancer surgery.
There are 300 nodes in the neck and all are not big enough to be felt or seen on ultrasound or CT. However, thyroid cancer of papillary type will have spread to nodes in 50% of cases but are not visible by imaging.However, when they are seen on Ultrasound and proven positive for metastatic disease by cytology and Thyroglobulin needle washout they will trigger a neck dissection along with the first total thyroidectomy. This in the hands of a high volume thyroid surgeon >25 totals a year will most likely be your last surgery, and prevent a surgery later for the lymph nodes not treated in the first surgery.
The image shows the thyroid gland and the green network is lymph nodes of the neck.