Thyroid lesions grow with age and affect mostly the female population. More than 95 percent of all thyroid lesions are benign or non-cancerous. If left alone, thyroid nodules can disturb the neighboring structure such as the esophagus and windpipe and can cause shortness of breath and difficulty in swallowing.
In the U.S., thyroid lesions are the most common abnormality in the endocrine system. Thyroid lesions occur when there is an abnormal growth of the tissues, which often form into a lump that is recognizable by touch. The lesions can occur on any part of the thyroid gland on the lobes and the isthmus. There are some thyroid lesions or nodules that are easily diagnosed through visual or physical examination especially when the lesion is located on the anterior portion of the thyroid gland, while other lesions are left unnoticed especially if the growth is deep within the thyroid tissues and are only incidentally discovered through imaging studies. Only 10 percent of these lesions are considered cancerous.
Almost all patients with thyroid lesions do not exhibit any symptoms unless the cells in the lesions are producing too much thyroid hormone and causes Grave’s disease or hyperthyroidism or toxic thyroid. If that happens, a person suffering with thyroid lesions may experience, easy fatigability, electrolyte imbalance, diaphoresis, loss of weight, neck pressure and pain on the site of the lesion growth that radiates to the ears and jaw and increased heart rate.
Mostly, nodules are discovered by the patients themselves as a notable lump or are incidentally discovered through physical examination and imaging scans intended for other purposes. Some may experience difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), hoarseness of voice, and shortness of breath as the lesion compresses the trachea.
Thyroid lesions are diagnosed through Thyroid function tests for T3, T4, TSH through blood extractions, ultrasonography to evaluate the size, location number and consistency of the thyroid lesions, magnetic resonance imaging is useful to check for spread of the lesion, radionuclide scanning, and a fine needle aspiration biopsy check the types of cells that comprise the lesions, whether they are benign or malignant.
Some of the thyroid lesions are hard to distinguish whether they are cancerous or not, unless a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy id done to determine the consistency of the thyroid lesions. However, FNA is difficult to perform especially if the growth is deep within the thyroid. Usually, most patients undergo surgery, either a partial or total thyroidectomy.
If the lesion is not removed, the physician may give suppress the growth by giving doses of thyroid hormone especially if the lesion causes symptoms of hyperthyroidism, which is considered benign. The focus of treatment now falls on the prevention of the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism.