Can anybody tell me the possible causes of an enlarged thyroid. My best friend is a 22 year old male, otherwise fairly healthy, and he has been diagnosed with an enlarged thyroid, and possible hypothyroidism. He is now terrified that he has thyroid cancer. First of all, I know that cancer can strike at any age, but what age do you usually get thyroid cancer? Isn't he kind of young for that? There have to be other causes for a slightly enlarged thyroid. He is going for a thyroid scan in about 10 days.
Anyway, if anyone could help me out here, I would appreciate it. He has already got himself dead and buried.
Hi Purple. I have an enlarged thyroid too with multiple nodules/cysts growing on both sides of the gland. An enlarged thyroid does not definitely mean cancer thats for sure. Usually a person with one nodule that is growing can signify cancer however if he does actually have a multiplicity of them which is causing his goitre/large thyroid he shouldnt be too worried although should get them to investigate further. Thyroid cancer I am told is not that common and apparently one of the most curable of cancers there is. Tell your friend to relax (been there done that believe me) and to talk more with his doctor about his concerns.
Usually, a large thyroid is caused by one of two things:
1. His thyroid gland is failing and can't keep up with the demands his body needs. Nature compensates by making more thyroid tissue grow. More thyroid tissue means more facilities to produce thyroid hormones, and this is his body's last-ditch effort to keep him from becoming severely hypothyroid.
2. His body is mounting an autoimmune response to the thyroid glnd irritating it and making it swell (as is the case with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis). This will eventually kill off the gland making it less effective, and #1 may apply here in later stages, compounding the problem.
In either case, adding thyroid meds can reduce what the thyroid gland has to produce, shrinking it and making him more comfortable.
IF for some crazy reason, he has thyroid cancer (this is rare) it is the easiest cancer to treat, with the fewest symptoms and the fastest recovery time. VERY rarely does anyone die from thyroid cancer if it is diagnosed and treated. The worst that usually happens is that he would be on thyroid meds for life after the removal of hte thyroid gland.
Actually, this is usually the case for #1 and #2 above, too, though thyroid cancer patients often receive more aggressive treatment with meds after the thyroid gland is removed, and consequently feel better over the long run than most other thyroid patients.
I am not a doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV...
The Following User Says Thank You to Meep For This Useful Post: cocook (05-04-2012)
Thanks guys, you have both been very helpful. I am going to forward your responses to my friend and I am sure that he will appreciate it very much. I may be back for more help once he gets his thyroid scan done and gets the results!
Welcome purple. Sorry for the delays in responses -- you've posted in a really busy time and it seems that many of us aren't frequenting the board as often as we would like.
If you've not yet had a chance, please read through (and direct your friend to) our Information Archive thread. It includes many things about thyroid nodules, tests, treatments, and much more. In particular, on Page 2, 6/10/02 and 6/20/02, there are posts about What to Expect from a Thyroid Scan and How to Interpret the scan or ultrasound results.
A lot of us lurk anonymously for a long time, Elyse. I never thought I'd be a regular poster, but here I am. Please let your friend know he should feel free to read as much of the Board info as he wants without posting questions if he's more comfortable that way.
Hey guys, I just wanted to let you all know that my friend had his Thyroid Scan done today and aside from the fact that it is enlarged, he doesn't have anything else to worry about. The doctor is putting him on Synthroid (not sure of the exact dosage he is giving him) and he has to go back in 2 months for a follow-up and more blood tests. So thanks to all of you for your caring advice.
I've tried to get him to look at the boards, but it seems that he would rather that I do it for him because he doesn't really understand any of the medical terms, etc... and I can explain it all to him.
If he has any more questions, I'll be sure to come back and ask you guys. Thanks again,
What great news, Elyse! When he goes to the doctor for that follow-up visit, if possible, he should ask to have blood tests that include Free T3, Free T4, TSH, and all the thyroid antibodies. Sometimes antibody-related thyroiditis can cause an inflammation of the thyroid gland (or cause us to grow nodules).
The Synthroid may help support the gland and give it a chance to heal (helping reduce the antibodies). In addition, he may want to take Selenium (maximum dose 200 mcg/day). Selenium helps the body metabolize its thyroid hormone and has been shown to fight any antibodies that may be present. If your friend does not have antibodies, then his Selenium dose can be tapered off to 100 mcg/day to keep him balanced.
There are several posts to the Information Archive thread regarding Selenium (and other supplements), thyroiditis, antibodies, etc. if he would like to know more about it.