Nodules or growths on the thyroid gland may be found completely by accident or as part of a routine neck examination. Thyroid lesions may be a result of genetic mutations, thyroid hormone dysfunction, small hemorrhages, or even cancer. Thyroid nodules and even thyroid cancers tend to have strong genetic linkages and may run in families. Also, patients with history of radiation exposure (such as toxic industrial radiation or even medical radiation therapy) are at elevated risks of thyroid cancer. Ultrasound imaging is used for evaluation of the gland, although MRI imaging is also useful at times. Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) biopsy is a method of obtaining a sampling of thyroid tissue in the office that is sometimes performed at the time of ultrasound.
Results of the ultrasound and FNA biopsy, along with any special clinical concern by your doctors, dictate the surgical plan of whether or not to remove the thyroid gland. Currently there is no medicines that will reduce or eliminate nodules, so our options are either surgical removal or biopsy and monitoring.
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland, and often post-surgical radioactive iodine treatment, is highly successful for most thyroid cancers. Fortunately advances in thyroidectomy surgery have rapidly progressed over the years and have led to safer and safer procedures (and with smaller and smaller scars!).
For more information on thyroid and parathyroid diseases, visit www.thyroidandparathyroid.com.