The development of a benign multinodular goiter is a normal aspect of aging and a majority of women will develop goiters later in life. Very few of these nodules are cancer. However, as a result of the increasing use of diagnostic imaging involving the neck, more and more thyroid nodules are discovered; therefore more cancers are being detected in patients.
Two common scenarios are a thyroid nodule is seen on a CT scan with a follow-up thyroid ultrasound or a thyroid ultrasound is ordered because a palpable nodule needs ultrasound examination. This may lead to a fine needle aspiration biopsy and the diagnosis of thyroid cancer and the need for thyroid surgery. If not for the use of these imaging modalities and modern biopsy techniques, many people would never know there was cancer, because most thyroid cancers are not aggressive and would never be a problem.
Even with all of the additional thyroid surgeries that have been performed, the mortality rate of thyroid cancer has not changed significantly over the years. In general, thyroid surgery is a safe operation with a low complication rate. It is important to be selective in who needs surgery because some surgery can be avoided or in some cases a less aggressive surgery performed.
By understanding the behavior of thyroid cancer, the ultrasound characteristic of the nodule (Ti-RADS score) and long-term outcomes of treatment, recommendations can be made as to whether surgery is needed or not, what surgery to perform and whether postoperative I-131 radiation therapy is needed.
The physicians at UT Health East Texas ENT Center can help guide the patient through the process of diagnosing and determining a treatment recommendation for thyroid cancer. They work as a team to provide the best possible outcome.
Information provided by board-certified otolaryngologist, head and neck surgeon, Robert Strominger, MD, at the UT Health East Texas ENT Center on Three Lakes Parkway in Tyler. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 903-747-4098 or visit uthealthtylerhospital.com/services/ear-nose-and-throat/head-neck-surgery.