32: Thyroid Cancer Surgery? The Single Most Important Question to Ask Your Surgeon with Dr. Gary Clayman

There are over 250,000 thyroidectomies in the U.S. each year — not all surgeons are equal

This is a candid interview with Dr. Gary Clayman about thyroid cancer surgery and making sure a patient receives the best available care. 

Dr. Clayman has performed more than four hundred thyroid cancer operations per year for over twenty years among patients ranging from 6 months to 100+ years of age. Nearly half of Dr. Clayman’s patients have undergone failed initial surgery for their thyroid cancer by another surgeon or have recurrent, persistent, or aggressive thyroid cancer. If it pertains to thyroid surgery or thyroid cancer, there is likely nothing that he hasn’t seen.

Dr. Clayman left the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in the fall of 2016 to form the Clayman Thyroid Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida

If someone is considering surgery, Dr. Clayman discusses important topics, including:

  • Do not let a doctor operate on you unless the surgeon can prove to you that he/she has done a minimum of 150 annual thyroid surgeries, and for a minimum of ten years.  This means, do not see a surgeon unless he/she has completed a minimum of 1500 thyroid surgeries. 
  • Damage to voice box nerves is preventable, when surgery is done right.
  • 90% of thyroid surgeries done in the U.S. are by doctors doing fewer than fifteen thyroid surgeries per year
    There is a growing trend of patients being more informed compared to years past
  • Do not rush into a surgery.  Vet your doctor and hospital.  Talk to people and make sure you have selected a skilled surgeon
  • Surgery is not franchisable, use caution when
  • If a case is too complex, important that a less experienced surgeon seek help from a more experienced surgeon
  • Incomplete surgery is completely unacceptable (persistence of disease)
  • Advice to surgeons, especially less-experienced ones

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