Atrium Health Navicent Specialty Center

Gland Surgery

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Surgery In Oncology - Glandular Tumor Removal

There are as many types of glandular tumors as there are glands in the body. Here we cover just a few of the most common types of glandular tumors including salivary gland tumors, pituitary tumors, lymph node cancers, and thyroid cancer.

Salivary Gland Tumors

Salivary gland tumors are found in either the salivary gland - located near the mouth - or the ducts that drains them. Salivary glands produce saliva, moistening food before consumption. Symptoms of tumors existing in this region include facial nerve palsy and swelling in the front of the ears, on the floor of the mouth, or under the chin.

Surgery is the most common form of treatment for removing salivary gland tumors. In most cases, these tumors are benign - therefore, normally, no other treatment other than surgery is required. However, if the tumor is cancerous other treatments may be required including radiation therapy or a more extensive open surgery. In very rare cases, chemotherapy may be required.

Pituitary Tumors

In regards to the surgical removal of pituitary gland tumors, the efficacy of the surgery really depends on the location and type of the tumor, as well as how much it has spread to the other bodily structures.

The most common type of surgery for removing tumors in the pituitary gland is what is called in the field, transsphenoidal surgery. This sort of surgery seeks to remove the tumor through the sphenoid sinus - which is a hollow space just behind the nasal passages in the skull. The pituitary gland is covered by the back wall of the sphenoid sinus.

Lymph Node Cancer

Lymph nodes, which are also known as lymph glands, remove fluid and cell waste from the lymph and store white blood cells. Lymph nodes are located throughout the entire body - including the abdomen, groin, neck, and armpits - and are part of the lymphatic system.

The main symptom and sign that cancer may be present in the lymph nodes is swelling - though this can be caused by a great many other things other than cancer. Cancer in the lymph nodes usually starts in the lymphatic system. Otherwise, the most common forms of lymphatic cancer include Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. If cancer gets it source from another area other than the lymphatic system, it is referred to as metastasis. However, no matter the source of the cancer, the name of the lymph node cancer will be gotten from wherever the cancer is located in the body.

A number of considerations need to be accounted for before a treatment for lymph node cancer can be determined including location and size and whether or not it has spread from its original location. If the cancer has not spread, then the most normal treatment is surgery. Otherwise, stem cell transplantation and chemotherapy are viable options.

A common side effect due to lymph node surgery can be lymphedema. As already stated, lymph nodes are responsible for draining lymphatic fluid from your body. If too many of these are removed, it can cause an inability in your body to properly drain this fluid - which is called lymphedema. This issue is easily treatable; however, it can be quite annoying for a patient and once diagnosed is usually a lifelong problem.

Thyroid Cancer

When abnormal cells begin to develop in the thyroid gland, the medical field refers to it as thyroid cancer. Shaped like a butterfly, the thyroid gland, is located in the front part of the neck. The thyroid gland regulates the energy that your body uses and generates hormones. In other words, when your thyroid is not operating properly your body cannot either.

This form of cancer is very rare and, in general, those that are diagnosed with it can recover quickly. This is because thyroid cancer is one of the easiest to detect and is usually found early enough to treat. However, it does tend to show up again in most patients after treatment (though, in most cases, easily treatable even after being diagnosed several times).

It is still not precisely understood why thyroid cancers develop, though it does seem to show up in people who have been exposed to heavy radiation. Therefore, it seems that it is caused by changes in the DNA of the cells in your body. However, there is also evidence to suggest that genetics may play a large role in the development of thyroid cancer.

For the most part, Thyroid cancer is treated in the same way that most other cancers are treated: surgery and chemotherapy. The main forms of surgery include lobectomy and thyroidectomy. Lobectomy is normally used in cases where the cancer is small and has shown no signs of spreading beyond the thyroid. Thyroidectomy comes in two forms including "total thyroidectomy" and "subtotal thyroidectomy." As the names imply, total thyroidectomy removes the entire thyroid, and subtotal thyroidectomy refers to the partial removal of the thyroid.