At Boston Medical Center, an experienced team of endocrinologists and surgeons evaluate thyroid nodules and determine the best treatment for each patient. Thyroid nodules are common and, fortunately, are usually benign (noncancerous).
The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that regulates the body’s metabolism by producing hormones that regulate body temperature and a wide variety of other functions. While most thyroid nodules never cause any symptoms, some patients with thyroid nodules may develop difficulties swallowing, a choking sensation, voice change, or symptoms related to the excess production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid nodules may require surgery, particularly if they are malignant (cancerous).
If a thyroid nodule is determined to be cancerous, the primary treatment is removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. In some cases, the surgeon will remove half of the thyroid gland (lobectomy), but in others, the entire thyroid is removed (total thyroidectomy). Your surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes if cancer cells have spread. Thyroid cancer is typically very treatable, with a high cure rate.
Following a total thyroidectomy, the body will no longer produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone. (This may also occur after a lobectomy.) However, a daily pill can provide the necessary hormone.
Professor of Surgery and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Boston University School of Medicine
Associate Professor of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA
Surgical Oncology, Liver, Pancreas and Biliary Cancers, Cancers of the Stomach, Sarcoma, Melanoma