Brooke Burke: Diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer

About Dr. Ryan Osborne

Ryan F. Osborne, M.D. is the Director of Head and Neck Surgery at OHNI and is an internationally renowned expert in head and neck oncology. He has developed a special interest for the treatment of parotid gland tumors and focuses on the use of minimally-invasive techniques in the care of patients needing parotid surgery.

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Brooke Burke Thyroid CancerDancing with the Stars alumna, Brooke Burke, recently announced her diagnosis of thyroid cancer.  In a statement she posted on YouTube, she stated:

“I need to have thyroid surgery … which means I’m going to have a nice big scar right here across my neck… I don’t get to just walk around and pretend like nothing happened or not follow up or not share it, because it’s going to be pretty much dead center.”

She addresses the way her cancer was discovered, during a routine physical exam.  She had no symptoms and was shocked to find, after numerous tests, that her small nodule was indeed cancerous.  It is important that she considers the scar she will have.  As a celebrity and entertainer, scarring in such a visible place is undoubtedly of concern to her.  However, even for the average patient, this is a relevant issue and often, the most permanent reminder of the thyroid cancer diagnosis.

Is thyroid cancer common?

Thyroid cancer is relatively rare, accounting for only 1% of new cancer diagnoses in the United States.  While radiation exposure increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer, the majority of thyroid cancer patients do not have this history.  Other risk factors include:

  • Female gender (women are 3x more likely to get thyroid cancer)
  • Age (most common in women 40-50 years of age)
  • Family history

Is thyroid cancer dangerous or deadly?

There are several different kinds of thyroid cancer, some of which are, indeed, life-threatening.  Actually, if caught too late, all forms are potentially fatal.

The most common type, papillary thyroid  cancer, is very treatable if caught early.  The other types (follicular, medullary, and anaplastic) vary in seriousness; however all do better if caught early, before spreading outside the thyroid gland.

What is the treatment of thyroid cancer?

Treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer but almost always involves thyroidectomy (removal of part of all of the thyroid gland).  Other components of treatment may be:

  • Radiation
  • Treatment of neck lymph nodes (may require removal if disease has spread)

Does thyroidectomy always involve a scar in the middle of the neck?

Unfortunately, the thyroid’s location in the middle of the neck almost always requires an incision in that area. Some surgeons have used an incision in the armpit with success but this is not commonly done.

More important than the incision location is the technique of closure. The better an incision is closed and cared for after surgery, the better it heals.  Indeed, even an incision in the middle of the neck for thyroid surgery can be nearly invisible. However even poorly-healed scars can be treated.


This picture shows a patient treated at Osborne Head and Neck Institute’s Thyroid Surgery Center.


As with any surgery the most important factors in patient outcome involve choosing the right surgeon and surgical team.  The most critical factors should be:

To learn more about cosmetic surgery by thyroid surgery, and other procedures offered at the internationally renowned Osborne Head and Neck Institute visit our website at: