Thyroid Nodules - Treatments

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What is the treatment for thyroid nodules?

Follicular adenomas are difficult to distinguish from follicular cancers. Follicular nodules, other nodules highly suspicious for cancerous and definite cancer should be treated by surgery. Most thyroid cancers are curable and rarely cause life-threatening problems. Any nodule not removed needs to be watched closely by follow-up with the physician every 6 to 12 months. This follow-up may involve a physical examination, ultrasound examination, or both. Occasionally, a physician may attempt to shrink the nodule by using suppressive doses of thyroid hormone. Some physicians believe that if a nodule shrinks on suppressive therapy, it is more likely to be benign. If the nodule continues to grow regardless of suppressive therapy, surgery should be considered strongly. The value of suppressive therapy, however, is controversial.

If a nodule causes hyperthyroidism, it is usually noncancerous. Treatment is aimed at preventing the signs, symptoms, and complications of hyperthyroidism, such as heart failure, osteoporosis,, and rapid heart rate. Treatments include destroying the gland using radioactive iodine (131-iodine), blocking production of thyroid hormone with medications, or conservatively following the patient with mild hyperthyroidism. "Subclinical hyperthyroidism" refers to an adult patient with a hyperfunctioning nodule, but TSH is minimally suppressed and the blood levels of thyroid hormones are normal. Treatment is individualized based on age, presence of other medical conditions, and patient preference.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: vbyrd6, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 13

I had thyroid problems since the military doctors decided I was growing too fast. At eleven I was 5'11" and weighed 115 pounds. But I wish they had left me skinny instead of doing a BMR (basal metabolism radiation). Well, over the next several years I gained about 20 pounds a year - until I was overweight. I continued to grow to 6"3" so it was not a successful treatment. Since when is it ever safe to expose a child to unnecessary radiation! Shame on the hospital and any other doctor who decides this treatment is needed. Think again!

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Comment from: Blue, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 30

I just had the right half of my thyroid and isthmus removed a week ago. All in all, the surgery was not bad. I had a large nodule on the right and 3 small ones on the left. I had the choice of having half or whole of the thyroid removed. I agonized over this decision; asking other medical people, researching medical information. There was no clear decision one way or the other. I wanted to hopefully avoid having to take medication. Anyway, I chose to have half removed. The pathology results are benign; so no more surgery. The biggest surprise for me was that the nodule growth was so gradual, I did not realize that my breathing, sleeping, snoring were influenced. I am amazed that I no longer snore; I can breathe in more air without perceived restriction on the right side. My wheezing has all but disappeared. This whole issue was not really addressed with me with the nodule issue. I still have the feeling of something "heavy" on my left thyroid side. I thought that my breathing and wheezing were just allergy problems. Before surgery, I could not lay on my back flat without feeling I was being smothered in my neck. Now that I have had this realization, I wanted to make sure other thyroid patients are aware.

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