Treatment options for thyroid nodules vary depending if the nodule is benign, cancerous or causing hyperthyroidism, according to Mayo Clinic. All types of thyroid nodules may require surgery, especially those that are cancerous. Since some treatment options pose risks, the individual’s doctor should determine the best treatment.
Benign thyroid nodules may be treated by monitoring for any changes through physical exams and thyroid function tests, explains Mayo Clinic. The nodule may also be treated using thyroid hormone suppression therapy in the form of levothyroxine. Surgery may be needed if the nodule creates difficulty breathing or swallowing. Surgery may also be required if doctors are unable to determine if the nodule is benign or cancerous.
Thyroid nodules causing hyperthyroidism are often treated with radioactive iodine, notes Mayo Clinic. This shrinks the nodules and gradually diminishes hyperthyroidism symptoms. Sometimes, treatment entails using anti-thyroid medications such as methimazole. If radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications are not good options, the individual may have surgery to remove the thyroid gland. Cancerous thyroid nodules are generally removed through surgery, called a near-total thyroidectomy. After the thyroidectomy is performed, the individual must take levothyroxine on a lifelong basis to ensure the body maintains the needed amount of thyroid hormone.