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Lump in the Neck

Last Updated: · Patients
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Question

My 28-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with a thyroid problem just three days ago.

At her annual physical, the doctor noticed an enlarged lobe of the thyroid, referred her to an endocrinologist and after a biopsy was performed, the results were as follows. The cells presented as “normal but in an abnormal pattern”. She was informed that statistically 20% of the time in cases like this, cancer is present. The endocrinologist is referring her for surgery to remove the thyroid.

As a diagnosticand preventative tool, it seems such a drastic measure and one that will have repercussions the rest of her life. In this scenario, 80% of the time cancer is not present.

Are there no other tests that can be done and failing that, is it not possible to remove just one lobe of the thyroid

Response

A fine needle biopsy is the best diagnostic measure but is not 100% perfect. There is no reliable 100% method and other tests, like ultrsound imaging of the thyroid also leave room for doubt. The best way if there is uncertainty is to look at the actual tissue after surgery. One does not want to ‘miss’ cancer even if the chance is only 20%. The operation ,if performed by an experienced thyroid surgeon, is straightforward. She may need to take thyroxine tablets afterwards but if the lump is benign there are no repercussions. Hope this helps.