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General Surgery Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid & Endocrine Conditions

We focus on diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal organs as well as the management of recurrent and complex hernias.

What is a thyroid disease?

Your thyroid creates and produces hormones that play a role in many different systems throughout your body. When your thyroid makes either too much or too little of these important hormones, it’s called a thyroid disease. There are several different types of thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

 

Thyroid disease is a general term for a medical condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones. Your thyroid typically makes hormones that keep your body functioning normally. There are two kinds of thyroid disease:

  • Hyperthyroidism: When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, this is called hyperthyroidism. This will cause energy to be used up too quickly and will do more than make you tired — it can make your heart beat faster, cause you to lose weight without trying and even make you feel nervous.

  • Hypothyroidism: On the flip-side of this, your thyroid can make too little thyroid hormone, and this is called hypothyroidism. When you have too little thyroid hormone in your body, it can make you feel tired, you might gain weight and you may even be unable to tolerate cold temperatures.

 

Who is affected by thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease can affect anyone — men, women, infants, teenagers and the elderly. It can be present at birth (typically hypothyroidism) and it can develop as you age (often after menopause in women).

 

Thyroid disease is very common, and a woman is about five to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man.

 

You may be at a higher risk of developing a thyroid condition if you:

  • Have a family history of thyroid disease.

  • Have a medical condition (these can include pernicious anemia, Type 1 diabetes, primary adrenal insufficiency, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome and Turner syndrome).

  • Take a medication that’s high in iodine (amiodarone).

  • Are older than 60, especially in women.

  • Have had treatment for a past thyroid condition or cancer (thyroidectomy or radiation).

Where is thyroid disease commonly found?

Your thyroid is a small gland located at the front of your neck under your skin. It’s a part of your endocrine system and controls many of your body’s important functions by producing and releasing (secreting) certain hormones. Your thyroid’s main job is to control the speed of your metabolism (metabolic rate), which is the process of how your body transforms the food you consume into energy. 

 

Your thyroid hormones affect the following bodily functions:

  • How your body uses energy (metabolism)

  • Heart rate

  • Breathing

  • Digestion

  • Body temperature

  • Brain development

  • Skin & bone maintenance

  • Fertility​

Image by Kateryna Hliznitsova

Why does thyroid disease occur?

 

The four main conditions that affect your thyroid include:

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).

  • Goiter (enlarged thyroid).

  • Thyroid cancer 

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) happens when your thyroid doesn’t produce and release enough thyroid hormones. This causes aspects of your metabolism to slow down. It’s a fairly common condition that affects approximately 10 million people in the United States. It is treatable.

Causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease.

  • Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid).

  • Iodine deficiency.

  • A nonfunctioning thyroid gland (when the thyroid doesn’t work correctly from birth).

  • Over-treatment of hyperthyroidism through medication.

  • Thyroid gland removal.

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) happens when your thyroid produces and releases more thyroid hormones than your body needs. This causes aspects of your metabolism to speed up. Approximately 1 out of 100 people over the age of 12 have hyperthyroidism in the United States. It is treatable.

 

Causes of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Graves’ disease

  • Thyroid nodules

  • Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid).

  • Postpartum thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid that happens after giving birth).

  • Excess iodine in your blood from diet and/or medication.

  • Over-treatment of hypothyroidism through medication.

  • A benign (noncancerous) tumor in your pituitary gland.

Goiter is an enlargement of your thyroid gland. Goiters are relatively common; Goiters have different causes, depending on their type.

  • Simple goiters: These goiters develop when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones to meet your body's needs. Your thyroid gland tries to make up for the shortage by growing larger.

  • Endemic goiters: These goiters occur in people who don't get enough iodine in their diet (iodine is necessary to make thyroid hormone). 

  • Sporadic goiters: These goiters have no known cause in most cases. In some cases, certain medications can cause sporadic goiters.

Thyroid cancer is cancer that begins in your thyroid tissue. This condition is not uncommon. Treatments for most thyroid cancers are very successful.

 

Thyroid cancer is classified based on the type of cells from which cancer grows. Thyroid cancer types include:

  • Papillary

  • Follicular

  • Medullary

  • Anaplastic

How are thyroid diseases treated?

 

Thyroid surgery is performed to treat conditions such as thyroid nodules, goitre, hyperthyroidism and cancer. There are two main types of thyroid surgery — partial and full removal of the thyroid.

 

The most important thing to remember is that you can manage thyroid disease with the right diagnosis and treatment. Thyroid disease is often managed well with simple lifestyle changes and medication, but there are several different types of medications used to help those with thyroid disease.

 

When should I seek medical help?

 

Your thyroid is an important part of the endocrine system. Thyroid disease is very common and treatable. If you experience any thyroid disease-related symptoms or want to know if you have any risk factors for developing thyroid disease, talk to our doctor! We’re here to help you.

Click here to learn more about our other services under General Surgery.

Dr Jesse Hu: Endocrine Surgeon in Singapore

Seek expert endocrine care from Dr Jesse Hu, an experienced endocrine surgeon  in Singapore. With a focus on personalised treatment, Dr Jesse Hu is dedicated to addressing your hormonal health concerns effectively. Whether you're dealing with neck lumps, thyroid issues, or other endocrine-related matters, her professional guidance can make a difference in your well-being. Book a consultation with Dr Jessue Hu today for comprehensive endocrine care in Singapore.

Dr Jesse Hu
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