Your treatment will depend on how
thyroid nodule affects you. If your thyroid nodule is
not cancerous (benign) and is not causing any problems, your doctor will watch
the nodule closely before doing anything else. If your thyroid nodule is
causing problems, you may need to take medicine or have surgery.
Although Graves' disease can be diagnosed from the results of one or two tests, your doctor may use several methods to double-check the findings and rule out other disorders. An analysis of your blood will show if the levels of two hormones -- tetraiodothyrinine (free T-4) and triiodothyronine (free T-3), which are produced or regulated by the thyroid -- are higher than normal. If they are, and if levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood are abnormally low, you are hyperthyroid,...
Surgery is usually only
necessary if your thyroid nodule is so large that it causes problems with
breathing or swallowing or if your nodule is cancerous. After a cancerous
nodule is surgically removed, you may need radioactive iodine to destroy any
thyroid tissue or cancer cells that are still causing problems. If you need to
have your entire thyroid gland removed, you will need to take thyroid hormone
medicine for the rest of your life.
For information about thyroid
cancer and its treatment, see the topic
When you know you have a
thyroid nodule, your treatment options include:
Observation. If your
thyroid nodule is not cancerous, your doctor may choose to check it every 6 to
12 months for changes in size. Many noncancerous thyroid nodules stay the same
size or shrink without treatment.
Not all thyroid nodules need surgery. You will need to have surgery to remove
part or all of your thyroid gland if:
Your nodule is cancerous or suspected to
Your nodule is so big that it makes it hard for you
to breathe or swallow.
Your nodule is noncancerous but is making
too much thyroid hormone, causing
hyperthyroidism. If you have hyperthyroidism because
of your nodule and you are pregnant, it is not a good idea to have radioactive
iodine treatment. Your doctor may recommend surgery instead of radioactive
You have several nodules (multinodular
goiter) and surgery is not a good idea because of
other health problems you have. Radioactive iodine can shrink nodules that
cause problems with breathing or swallowing, but your nodules may come back
part or all of your thyroid gland needs to be surgically removed because of
radioactive iodine may be used to destroy any thyroid
tissue or cancer cells that remain after surgery.
If you have a thyroid
Take any thyroid hormone medicine your doctor
prescribes at the same time each day and do not miss a dose.
Follow your doctor's advice for getting your blood checked for
Call your doctor if you have symptoms of
hyperthyroidism, such as feeling nervous, having a
fast heartbeat, sweating more than usual, and losing weight. Sometimes
hyperthyroidism develops from taking thyroid hormone medicine or when a
noncancerous nodule starts making too much thyroid hormone.
your doctor if you have symptoms of
hypothyroidism, such as feeling tired, feeling cold
when others do not, and gaining weight. Hypothyroidism can develop after you
are treated with radioactive iodine or you have surgery.
Schedule regular checkups with your doctor. Even noncancerous
nodules need to be looked at by your doctor on a regular basis.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
thyroid nodule gets bigger, your doctor may recommend
fine-needle aspiration to see whether the nodule has become
cancerous. If your nodule has become cancerous or appears to be cancerous, your
doctor will probably recommend surgery (thyroidectomy)
to remove some or all of your thyroid gland. You may also need