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Meet General Surgeon, Dr. Joel Turner

September 10, 2020
Having to find a new healthcare provider can be a daunting task. It’s difficult to know whether the provider will be a good fit for you from just a biography and a photo online. In the series, “What’s Up, Dr. Dovec?” GBMC bariatric surgeon, Elizabeth Dovec, MD, FACS, FASMB, interviews providers across the GBMC HealthCare System so you can get to know them on a personal level and learn more about their specialties. In this episode, Dr. Dovec interviews Joel Turner, MD, Vice Chair, Department of Surgery, and an endocrine surgeon, about treatment for conditions that affect the thyroid.

Dr. Turner has been practicing at GBMC since 1999 and has performed approximately 3,000 endocrine surgeries on the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands during that time. One of the most common surgeries he performs is thyroidectomy (the removal or partial removal of the thyroid gland).

“Thyroid problems can affect people at any age, from teens to people in their 80’s and older. Patients who notice a lump in the area of the thyroid or experience symptoms of thyroid problem such as fatigue, hoarseness, or pressure in the area around the thyroid are referred to me by primary care physicians and endocrinologists,” he explained. “The next step is to perform a biopsy of the nodule to determine whether the nodule is cancerous. The good news is that 90% of thyroid nodules are benign.”

If a patient does have thyroid cancer, Dr. Turner will remove either half or all of the gland. And while many patients worry that thyroidectomy will cause weight gain or leave them with an unsightly scar, Dr. Turner said the surgery has been finetuned a great deal in recent years. “From a cosmetic perspective, the incision is only about two inches and I place it in a normal crease in the skin on the neck, so you can’t see it on most people. In terms of worries about weight gain, after a total thyroidectomy, patients take hormone therapy medication that prevents hyper- and hypothyroidism and most experience no change in weight at all.”
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