Mary Murphy happy, in recovery after thyroid cancer

Choreographer and celebrity dance judge Mary Murphy is currently recovering from thyroid cancer, according to the Toronto Star.

A judge on the television show "So You Think You Can Dance" for more than six seasons, Murphy left the her position as permanent competition judge during Season 7 to pursue her own career, announcing her departure in late 2010, EOnline reports.

In a candid videotaped interview posted on a fan website, Murphy said that her thyroid gland was surgically removed on December 15.

She added that she is currently awaiting word from her physicians that the cancer has not migrated to her lymph nodes.

Murphy said that her tumor was quite large, putting pressure on her vocal cords and prompting surgeons to warn her that the removal of the gland, a procedure known as a thyroidectomy, could result in permanent speech loss.

Fortunately it didn't, Murphy said, smiling.

Typically, clinicians diagnose any malignant nodule or tumor larger than one centimeter across - or a benign nodule larger than four centimeters - as an instance of "gross disease," which often merits a full thyroidectomy, according to an article published in the journal Cancer Control.

While the procedure can result in hypothyroidism, in which low levels of thyroid hormone result in dry skin, muscle cramps and fatigue, the condition may be treated by taking daily doses of thyroid hormone replacement pills.

In her interview, Murphy expressed joy over still being able to talk and deliver her trademark laugh, which often bubbled up during dance performances she found exceptional on the dance show.

While Murphy's nodules were large and pronounced, many are not. Healthcare experts continue to debate treatment methods for thyroid cancers smaller than one centimeter across. Due to improving detection methods, small papillary nodules are being found in increasing numbers, according to endocrinologists interviewed by Endocrine Today.

Approximately 5 percent of thyroid nodules under one centimeter in diameter are cancerous, Cancer News reports.
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