Over the last decade detections of thyroid cancers have increased by around two-thirds (65%) in the UK – because of developments in scanning technology. However, most of these cancers are ‘low-risk’ and found by chance on scans.
The current standard treatment for thyroid cancer is a complete removal of the thyroid gland, called a ‘total thyroidectomy – right and left’. East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) is currently part of a national trial investigating whether a different option could be as effective.
Instead of removing the entire thyroid, the HoT Trial (Hemi or Total Thyroidectomy in low-risk thyroid cancer) is looking at whether a partial removal, called a hemithyroidectomy, is as effective in treating the cancer.
The study also looks at the impact of a partial or full thyroid removal for a patient, and the likelihood of the cancer returning. Patients on the trial are randomised, meaning they don’t get to choose whether they have a total or partial removal.
Mr Billy Wong
Mr Billy Wong is a head and neck/thyroid consultant surgeon at ESNEFT and the principal investigator for the HoT trial.
He said: “Having your entire thyroid gland removed is a life-changing procedure and involves a considerable amount of implications. Patients will need to take hormone therapy for the rest of their lives and may also need to take vitamin D and calcium tablets. It can have an impact on the structures around the thyroid gland such as the nerves to the voice box.
“Hence, a partial removal essentially halves if not eliminate these risks.
“There is currently no consensus on what constitutes the best treatment for low-risk thyroid cancer. We hope that this study would provide the definitive evidence for the future in thyroid cancers.”
ESNEFT is one of 28 hospital trusts taking part in the HoT study at Ipswich Hospital and has already recruited the first patient since it opened at the Trust in September 2023.
The study as a whole has recruited 100 participants from across the country so far.
More information about the HoT Trial and the experience of a patient can be viewed on the Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre’s YouTube channel.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer can include a lump at the front, lower part of your neck, sore throat, hoarse voice, pain in your neck or difficulty swallowing or breathing. More information about symptoms can be found on the NHS website.
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