Cancer surgery risks exposed in new study

There's a potentially deadly form of cancer that's on the rise, especially among older folks... and there's a good chance you've never even given it a thought!

Thyroid cancer can be a frightening diagnosis, which is why patients often rush into the most aggressive treatment possible.

In a moment, I'm going to take the fear out of the equation and sort out fact from fiction so you don't panic into a bad decision.

But first, a new study shows the toll of aggressive over-treatment. Because while completely removing the thyroid often does "cure" the cancer, it can leave something worse behind.

The new study finds a shocking number of patients live with debilitating side effects that linger long after treatment.

Docs have long claimed these problems and complications are rare, hitting just 1 percent of thyroid cancer patients.

But the new study exposes that as another mainstream lie.

Overall, 12 percent of patients battle complications from thyroid surgery a FULL YEAR after that operation.

Among older patients, who are more likely to have this cancer and get treated for it, the numbers are even worse.

In the month after surgery, 10 percent of older patients develop immediate problems such as infection, clots, and swelling.

Think that's bad? That's just the beginning.

By the one-year mark, one in five -- 20 percent! -- are living with serious long-term complications.

Some suffer from vocal cord problems, including paralysis of the vocal cords.

Others battle hypoparathyroidism or hypocalcemia, thyroid-related conditions that lead to dangerously low levels of calcium in the blood

And let's face it: For the other 80 percent, life's no picnic, even if the surgery goes off without a hitch.

Once the thyroid is removed, you'll have to take drugs for the rest of your life to reproduce the hormones your body can no longer make. You'll also have to visit a doctor -- often -- to have those hormone levels checked.

Obviously, if you have thyroid cancer, you can't ignore it -- and I'm not saying you should.

But as much as you want that cancer gone, don't rush into surgery to remove the entire thyroid.

Many thyroid cancers are actually locked inside a "capsule" of fibrous tissue.

While it certainly looks like cancer deep inside that capsule, it's trapped there -- and because it's contained, minor surgery can often remove just the capsule while preserving most of the thyroid itself.

These cases don't even need radiation, and studies show the recurrence rate of this much less invasive procedure is less than 1 percent.

If you're diagnosed with this cancer, don't rush into the most aggressive treatment available -- even if it might be tempting. Get a careful analysis and see if this option could be right for you.

If you're in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!