January 03, 2013

Miss Oregon 2013 has Thyroid Cancer

Miss Oregon Gabrielle Neilan revealed that she had thyroid cancer for which she underwent a total thyroidectomy 2 weeks before winning the Miss Oregon beauty competition on 11/25/12. [link]

She first felt the thyroid mass in September 2012. This was soon followed by a thyroid ultrasound and a biopsy (presumably via an ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration). The biopsy came back cancerous (unclear exactly what type of thyroid cancer). Given the thyroid cancer diagnosis, she underwent a total thyroidectomy. Two weeks later, she went up on-stage and became Miss Oregon 2013 without the benefit of the judges knowing what she had been going through.

She has a midline neck scar from the surgery that is clearly visible once you know it's there.

Apparently, the thyroid cancer was found in some of her lymph nodes and as such, radioactive iodine treatment is being pursued. If that fails to completely eradicate her cancer, she may need additional treatment that may include radiation therapy.

The type of thyroid cancer was never specifically mentioned, but she most likely has papillary thyroid carcinoma which is the most common form of thyroid cancer and is highly curable.

Other less common thyroid cancers include follicular thyroid carcinoma and medullary thyroid carcinoma.

Regardless of the type, thyroid cancer mandates thyroidectomy with post-operative radioactive iodine treatment to ensure complete eradication of all thyroid tissue that might contain cancer.

Given the absence of a thyroid gland, she now has to take thyroid replacement drugs which must be continued for the rest of her life.

It should be stated that until the thyroid is removed, one can NOT be absolutely sure that thyroid cancer actually truly is present. Indeed, the president of Argentina made a similar announcement of thyroid cancer only to find out after her thyroid was removed that no cancer was actually present. Read blog post about this "mistake".

Read more about the surgery here or watch the video!


Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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