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Endocrine Cancer

The Endocrine Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital provides patients with evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of both cancerous and benign tumors of the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and pancreas. Our team is devoted to providing compassionate, state-of-the-art care. Our surgeons are specially trained and collaborate with specialists both within Yale New Haven Health and externally in order to provide the most comprehensive, leading-edge surgical treatment available. In collaboration with the Smilow Cancer Hospital Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program, patients are screened and evaluated for hereditary endocrine tumor disease.

In addition, clinical trials testing new therapies and treatment options are offered to patients with medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancer. Patients benefit from highly specialized procedures, such as innovative, minimally invasive operations. We emphasize the safest, most successful surgery with the least amount of discomfort, scarring, and the fastest recovery time for every patient. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your individual diagnosis and referrals to support services will be provided as needed.

Approach to Care

The Endocrine Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital offers several specialized approaches to patient care. These include the use of a parathyroid four-dimensional CT Scan, an advanced imaging technique used to localize parathyroid tumors before surgery is performed, and the use of Rapid PTH (parathyroid hormone) assays, which allow for real-time testing while patients are still in the operating room. The use of Rapid PTH-assays is essential in determining if all the tumor has been removed, or if further exploration is needed before surgery has ended. This provides the surgeon with the confidence to know a patient’s surgery has been successful, and decreases the length of surgery and recovery time.

Innovative Surgical Care

Specialized surgical expertise is essential for the management of all endocrine tumors. Our surgeons are internationally recognized for their minimally invasive techniques and their groundbreaking research in benign and malignant endocrine disorders. Some of the latest and most innovative procedures offered include:

  • Minimally Invasive Parathyroidectomy: Removal of one or more of the parathyroid glands, which are small, pea-shaped glands located in the neck on either side of the trachea and next to the thyroid gland. This is performed with a focused approach, often using a gentle, local, cervica block anesthesia technique. This enables the patient to vocalize during surgery, ensuring the vocal cords are protected
  • Retroperitoneoscopic Adrenalectomy: This approach allows for direct access to the adrenal gland without the need for invasive procedures in patients deemed to have smaller tumors. This results in less scarring and pain with a quicker recovery for patients.
  • Laparoscopic or Open Transabdominal Adrenalectomy: Based on the individual patient, and especially in the management of large adrenal tumors, either a laparoscopic or open surgical approach may be preferable. Your surgeon will tailor the approach to fit you the best.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Endocrine Surgery, call 203-737-2036

Medical Endocrinology

Traditional external beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy play a small role in the treatment of endocrine tumors, but occasionally are required. While surgery is the most common and important treatment modality for endocrine tumors, another type of treatment that is widely used and effective in thyroid cancer is radioiodine therapy, which uses radioactive iodine to ablate any remaining cancer cells. This is a safe and very well tolerated treatment administered by the Endocrine Program at Smilow. Following treatment, hormone therapy treatment may be administered to slow the growth of any remaining tumor cells and lower the chance of a recurrence.

Our multidisciplinary Tumor Board meets weekly to discuss patient cases and to develop an optimal treatment plan for each of our patients. The Endocrine Program commonly treats rare cancers, such as parathyroid carcinoma, advanced thyroid cancer, adrenal cancer, and pheochromocytoma/paragangliomas, which benefit from this multidisciplinary approach and specialized expertise.


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Endocrine Cancers Program
Judy: Thyroid Cancer Survivor

Judy: Thyroid Cancer Survivor

Judy, a registered nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital, wasn’t entirely shocked when she was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in late October. Having worked at Yale since 1982 and as a nurse since 1976, she has cared for hundreds of cancer patients over the years; she understands first hand that cancer can happen to anyone.