October 25, 2004 — William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, has thyroid cancer. He has had an operation on his trachea or windpipe in the course of treatment, the Supreme Court announced today.

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Justice Rehnquist was admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital three days ago, underwent the surgery two days ago and was expected to be released from the hospital this week. The chief justice expects to be on the bench when the tribunal reconvenes next week.

Thyroid Cancer

The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump, or nodule, that can be felt in the neck. The only certain way to tell whether a thyroid lump is cancer is by examining the thyroid tissue obtained using a needle or surgery for biopsy. Surgery is the most common form of treatment for thyroid cancer that has not spread to other areas of the body.

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Thyroid cancer is one of the more treatable forms of cancer and has a 90 percent cure rate. We wish the Chief Justice well.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com

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