Man beats severe tracheal, thyroid cancer, has voice surgically restored

Surgeons at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital have reported performing a radical new operation on a tracheal and thyroid cancer sufferer.

A 27-year-old man with a large, malignant tumor in his trachea, thyroid gland and neck muscles recently underwent surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, along with a large section of his windpipe. Doctors then reconstructed his throat using skin and bone from the patient's own body.

Prior to the procedure, biopsies indicated that the man had a rare form of tracheal cancer called an immature malignant teratoma, which then spread to the thyroid. It is almost always diagnosed in newborns and rarely appears in the neck. Hospital officials said that only about 300 such tumors have been diagnosed in 150 years.

The tumor began in the man's windpipe and spread to his thyroid gland and neck muscles. According to the surgeons who removed his thyroid and trachea, the growth had almost completely blocked the patient's airway.

As the rate of thyroid cancer increases in the U.S., tumors larger than 2 centimeters account for an estimated 17 percent of all thyroid carcinoma diagnoses, according to the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results database.

The hospital's surgical team reported that the man was given a full thyroidectomy, as well as having a section of his windpipe just below his voicebox removed.

Doctors then reconstructed the man's trachea using skin and bone grafts taken from the patient's leg, along with two titanium plates.

He also underwent chemotherapy. The man will have to take daily thyroid hormone replacement in order to prevent the symptoms of hypothyroidism, which include muscle cramps, itchy skin, brittle hair and water retention, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists reports.

Doctors expect the tracheal and thyroid cancer patient to make a nearly full recovery.