Thyroid Nodule Surgery & Thyroid Treatment Options at the New York Sleep Sinus & Thyroid Surgery Center

Thyroid Nodule Surgery
TEL:646.943.7985310 14Th STREET, SIXTH FLOOR NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10003FAX:212.979.4315

New York Thyroid & Thyroid Nodule Surgery

Thyroid nodules are lumps that commonly develop in the thyroid gland.  As we age, the likelihood of developing thyroid nodules increases, with more than half the people in the world developing nodules by the time they are 50 years old.   While the vast majority of thyroid nodules are harmless, some nodules can cause problems with thyroid function or the surrounding structures in the throat.  What’s more, approximately 5% of thyroid nodules are cancerous.  It’s important to realize that cancerous nodules often develop in otherwise normal thyroid glands and in patients who exhibit no outward signs or symptoms.  That’s why it’s extremely important for your physician to check your neck regularly for signs of developing nodules, and to have an experienced specialist evaluate any nodules that are discovered.  

What causes thyroid nodules?

While thyroid nodules are very common, in most cases, we don’t know what specifically causes them to form.  Thyroid nodules develop more commonly in women and more frequently as we age.  Other risk factors could include a diet lacking in iodine, a family history of thyroid nodules, and pre-existing thyroid disease, such as Graves ’ disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. 

What are the symptoms of thyroid nodules?

Most thyroid nodules do not cause any neck pain or outward symptoms, so they are often difficult to detect.  In some instances, larger nodules may cause a visible lump in the throat area, or patients may notice discomfort or difficulty when swallowing.  But, in most cases, thyroid nodules are discovered by physicians while palpitating the neck during a routine physical examination. 

What should I do if I have a thyroid nodule?

You should consult with a physician who has experience in evaluating and treating thyroid nodules. 

How are thyroid nodules evaluated?

In addition to performing a thorough physical examination and taking a comprehensive medical history, Dr. Shin may order a series of screening tests to evaluate your thyroid nodules.  Tests ordered will depend upon many factors, including the size and location of your nodules, as well as your family history and risk factors.  Depending on your individual circumstances, screening tests may include:

  • Blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels.
  • Thyroid ultrasound monitoring.  Nodules can be monitored every six months to look for changes that may indicate further testing is required.   
  • Biopsy to check for cancerous cells. 
  • Radioactive iodine scans

How is a thyroid biopsy performed?

In some cases, Dr. Shin will do a fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy to determine if there are cancer cells present within thyroid nodules.  During the procedure, a very small needle is inserted into the nodule and a small amount of fluid or tissue is removed.  If there are multiple nodules present, Dr. Shin may elect to aspirate tissue from additional nodules.  The tissue is then sent out for microscopic evaluation, with results usually available within a few days.  The FNA biopsy is a simple, safe procedure that can be performed right in our Manhattan office.

What do the results of a thyroid biopsy mean?

A thyroid biopsy can help determine if there are cancer cells present within thyroid nodules.  There are four categories of results for a thyroid biopsy:  benign, malignant, indeterminate, and non-diagnostic.  The table below gives further information about biopsy results.  Depending on your biopsy results, Dr. Shin may order ongoing evaluation, additional tests, repeat biopsies, or surgical treatment.  Dr. Shin will discuss your results and treatment options thoroughly with you. 

Biopsy Results

Benign Malignant (Cancerous) Indeterminate Non-diagnostic
No cancer cells are found Cancer cells are detected within nodule Unable to determine if cancer cells are present Not enough thyroid tissue is present to make a diagnosis
Most nodules are benign and won’t need treatment Most malignant nodules can be removed surgically 10%-60% of indeterminate nodules will prove to be cancerous Occurs about 10% of the time
Ongoing monitoring is critical every 6-12 months to check for changes In some cases, radioactive iodine ablation may be used Additional testing may be recommended Repeat FNA biopsy is recommended
Repeat biopsy if changes are noticed Ongoing monitoring for recurrence Surgical removal may be recommended Treatment based on results of second FNA
Surgical removal of nodule if it causes discomfort or interferes with throat function Recurrence can be treated with additional surgery or radioactive iodine Close, ongoing monitoring may be recommended Ongoing monitoring may be recommended
Surgical removal of nodule for cosmetic purposes if patient desires

How are thyroid nodules treated?

Treatment will depend on which types of nodules are present. In many cases, Dr. Shin can monitor the nodules every 6 to 12 months to check for any changes that might indicate a more serious underlying condition. If changes are noticed, further screening tests may be ordered. If a nodule is determined to be cancerous, begins interfering with throat function, or demonstrates significant growth, surgical removal of the nodule will be indicated. Dr. Shin will evaluate your specific condition and discuss all your treatment options with you.

What if my thyroid nodules are cancerous?

Though finding out you have thyroid cancer is very upsetting, it’s important to realize that most thyroid cancers are very treatable, and many can be cured completely with thyroid surgery. Dr. Shin will discuss your individual circumstances thoroughly with you, and together, you will decide on the best course of treatment for your cancer. For further information about thyroid cancer, visit our thyroid cancer page.

How do I get more information about thyroid nodules?

Dr. Shin and his team will be happy to discuss thyroid nodules and treatments with you. Please call 646.943.7985 to arrange for a private consultation or schedule an appointment online at out New York, NY office.