A Must-Read Regarding Thyroid Nodules
It was a routine annual check-up with my family doctor, and I was expecting a rather quick visit before returning to work. There was an intern working with my doctor, so she came in first to do my health check. She apologized from the start, saying she had just finished her geriatric rotation so she might be a little "over-thorough" with me. I laughed and told her that was okay—and relaxed while she asked questions and then performed her physical exam. Then came a long pause and a puzzled look on her face. Not what you want from the doctor examining you. "Has your neck always looked like this?" she asked.
Not understand what she was referring to exactly, I asked what was wrong. She proceeded to tell me that my thyroid seemed enlarged. My doctor came in next to check it out and agreed that my thyroid was indeed enlarged. How had I not noticed this? What followed over the next few weeks was a medical lesson that I found so educational and informative that I had to share with others.
First came the ultrasound on my thyroid to get measurements. The procedure was physically painless, but it did provoke quite a bit of anxiety as I was not sure what was going to happen. The ultrasound revealed a small nodule on my left thyroid and a rather large one on my right.
Because the one nodule was so large I was told that we needed to biopsy it to make sure it wasn't cancerous. My worry intensified and I found myself lying on a table as the doctor gave me shots in my neck to numb the area. This was followed by four stabs into my neck to extract tissue from my nodule. It really was not as painful as I thought it would be, and the swelling afterwards was minimal.
It took a week to find out that it was not cancerous—but I would have to forever follow up with ultrasounds to continue measuring the nodules. I could also probably expect to have more biopsies in the future.
What I learned through this entire process is that most of us go around with thyroid nodules and do not know it. The statistic I was given was that one in three people have them. It is only if they become too large, and begin to present problems for us, that we become aware of them. Thyroid cancer is the slowest growing cancer there is, but it is also the most treatable.
I share my experience with you in the hope that you have become aware of the occurrence of thyroid nodules and that you will check yourself for them. Ask your doctor about them if you have concerns.