The Basics of Thyroid Adenoma

The Thyroid gland is a small but essential part of our endocrine system, responsible for producing hormones that control our metabolism and heart rate among many others. There are instances when the thyroid malfunctions resulting to lumps growing around it. These lumps are called thyroid nodules.

It is not crystal clear how a person can get thyroid nodules, but there are conditions greatly affecting the formation of these abnormalities. Inflammation or thyroiditis and iodine deficiency are just some, but there are also cases when tumors or adenomas form on or around the thyroid gland.

An adenoma is a tumor that is not considered cancerous. According to the National Cancer Institute[1], it starts at the thin layer of tissue called the epithelial tissue, which covers the glands and organs of the body.

What is Thyroid Adenoma?

Thyroid Adenoma is the term used in reference to unexplained overgrowths of normal thyroid tissue. This is benign or non-cancerous and is not even considered a serious health issue except if such a case already exhibits bothersome symptoms because of sheer size.

The Cedar-Sinai Medical Center[2] has shared that thyroid nodules are usually undiagnosed and is ten times more likely to affect older individuals, more so in females at six per cent while men only one to two per cent.

Once a lump or tumor is detected, the possibility of malignancy is of utmost consideration. More than 95 per cent of tumors are benign, for example, benign follicular adenoma wherein cells are contained in a nodule.

Causes of Thyroid Adenoma

A simple overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue can constitute for a thyroid adenoma. It can also be caused by fluid-filled cysts, inflammation, or thyroiditis.

According to WebMD[3], some adenomas can also produce thyroid hormones, due to how the tumor is growing in or around the thyroid gland. This can lead to hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of Thyroid Adenoma

Most thyroid nodules do not exhibit symptoms but larger ones can be uncomfortable for a person. According to The Mayo Clinic[4], foolproof way to know if a thyroid nodule sizeable enough is if it can be felt, be seen and if it already pressed on the windpipe and esophagus causing difficulty in swallowing and breathing.

For the adenomas that produce thyroxine, the excess hormones can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as unexplained weight loss, rapid and irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, tremors, and difficulty sleeping.

Possible Treatment for Thyroid Adenoma

Some thyroid adenomas do not require any treatment at all. However, for those who have larger, more noticeable adenomas, doctors may prescribe hormone levothyroxine hoping to reduce the growth and size of cold nodules while radioiodine therapy is prescribed for hot nodules. Depending on the patient’s profile like age, medical history (having previous radiation therapy) and family history of thyroid cancer, surgery may also be one of the best options. It is advisable to have a constant conversation with a trusted health professional to know the risks and available treatments when symptoms of thyroid adenomas are already being felt.

 

[1] Adenoma. National Cancer Institute NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/adenoma

[2] Thyroid Nodules. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/t/thyroid-nodules.html

[3] What are Thyroid Nodules? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-are-thyroid-nodules#1

[4] Thyroid Nodules. The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/thyroid-nodules/symptoms-causes/syc-20355262

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