The most common thyroid and parathyroid problems include:
- Hyperthyroidism – when the thyroid secretes too much thyroid hormone
- Hypothyroidism – when the thyroid does not secrete enough thyroid hormone
- Nodules – lumps in the thyroid, benign and cancerous
- Thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid, without infection
- Enlargement – commonly known as goiter
Thyroid Problems on the Rise, Worldwide
Thyroid cancer is becoming increasingly prevalent in the U.S. – doubling since 1973, and continuing to increase by two percent each year. Women, people with hereditary risk, and those with radiation exposure are among the groups most affected.
Researchers are unsure if the incidence of disease is actually increasing or if we are getting better at spotting it. As MRI and ultrasound technology have improved, more thyroid problems have been uncovered, some during unrelated examinations of the head and neck for other problems. There is also the possibility that radiation events such as the Chernobyl nuclear reactor fire in 1986 account for some the increase.
Evaluating Thyroid Problems
When investigating thyroid disorders, our physicians use a variety of tools, including blood testing, thyroid ultrasound, CT scanning and fine needle aspiration – a biopsy procedure to harvest a tiny amount of tissue for laboratory testing.