In endocrinology practice, thyroid conditions are one of the most common problems. Thyroid gland is located at the lower front part of the neck. Thyroid gland produces and secretes thyroid hormone (mostly in T4). Most of the time, three different kinds of medical conditions can arise from thyroid gland.
(1) Problem with Thyroid Hormone Level: Thyroid gland may produce too much of thyroid hormone (Hyperthyroidism) or may release too much hormone after losing the control mechanism due to inflammation (subacute thyroiditis, painless thyroiditis). The blood level of thyroid hormone goes up and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level becomes suppressed as a response. On the contrary, thyroid gland may not produce enough thyroid hormone (Hypothyroidism) as the result of accumulating autoimmune induced damage (Hashimoto disease) or surgical removal of the gland. Blood thyroid hormone level goes down to low-normal or below normal, TSH (thyroid stimulating homorne) levels goes up.
(2) The size of the thyroid gland: when the size of the thyroid gland is enlarged, it is called “goiter”. Hyperthyroidism, iodine deficiency, multiple thyroid nodules, etc can cause the thyroid gland to become enlarged. If it is very severe, surgery should be considered.
(3) Cancer: Like any organ in our body, cancer can develop from the thyroid gland. About 5% of thyroid nodules are cancerous. The diagnostic test involves Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) of suspicious thyroid nodules and pathology exam of the sample. The treatment involves surgical removal of the thyroid gland with or without radioactive iodine, and levothyroxine in most cases.