Clinical Thyroidology for the Public summarizes selected research studies discussed in the previous month’s issue of Clinical Thyroidology, an official publication of the American Thyroid Association. Editor-in-chief, Alan Farwell, MD, FACE

Volume 15 Issue 3

March is Medullary Thyroid Cancer Month

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Clinical Thyroidology for the Public Volume 15 Issue 3 (PDF file, 2.59 MB)



Can radiofrequency ablation (RFA) safely treat and shrink thyroid nodules?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) was approved as a non-surgical option for treatment of benign thyroid nodules several years ago. It can be done in the doctor’s office without putting the patient to sleep with general anesthesia. In this study, the authors report the largest outpatient experience regarding the effectiveness and safety of RFA for the treatment of benign thyroid nodules performed without general anesthesia in the United States.
Hussain I et al 2021 Safety and efficacy of radiofrequency ablation of thyroid nodules—Expanding treatment options in the United States. J Endocr Soc 5(8):bvab110.

Thyroidectomy for Graves’ disease rapidly improves symptoms and quality of life

Treatment options for Graves’ disease include anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine therapy and surgery. Previous studies have suggested that patient quality of life remains decreased even in patients whose hormone levels are normalized on antithyroid drugs. This study was done to evaluate whether thyroid surgery improved general quality of life indicators and thyroid specific symptoms in patients who were already being treated with antithyroid drugs.
Gunn AH et al 2021 Patient-reported outcomes following total thyroidectomy for Graves’ disease. Thyroid. Epub 2021 Dec 3. PMID: 34663089

Influence of emotions during treatment conversations for low-risk thyroid cancer

Patient’s anxiety is one of the known factors affecting the decisions regarding management of their medical problems. This is especially true when discussing a cancer diagnosis. The goal of this study was to describe the emotional content of patientsurgeon conversation prior to surgery in patients thought to have low-risk thyroid cancer.
Pitt SC et al 2021 The influence of emotions on treatment decisions about low risk thyroid cancer: A qualitative study. Thyroid. Epub 2021 Oct 12. PMID: 34641715.

What is the appropriate use of thyroid ultrasound?

Thyroid ultrasound is the main imaging study used to evaluate thyroid nodules. The American Thyroid Association has published guidelines as to the appropriate use of thyroid ultrasound, as do several other national organizations. This study aimed to evaluate the frequency of thyroid ultrasound studies that are deemed “unnecessary” by clinical practice guidelines and/or expert recommendations.
Edwards MK et al 2021 Inappropriate use of thyroid ultrasound: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Endocrine 74:263–269. PMID: 34379311.

Rethinking the need for the workup of incidental thyroid nodules in patients with nonthyroid cancers

Many thyroid nodules are detected by PET/CT scans that are done to look for spread of a nonthyroid cancer such as breast cancer or lung cancer. Overall, incidental thyroid nodules are found in 2% of PET/CT scans. The goal of this study is to provide guidance regarding the appropriate management of incidental thyroid nodules discovered by PET/CT scans performed for evaluation of nonthyroid cancers.
Piek MW et al 2021 Retrospective analyses of 18FDG-PET/ CT thyroid incidentaloma in adults: Incidence, treatment, and outcome in a tertiary cancer referral center. Thyroid 31:1715–1722. PMID: 34340567.

The relationship between thyroid disorders in adolescents and adult type 2 diabetes

Autoimmune thyroid disease is known to be associated with type 1 diabetes. However, the relationship between thyroid problems and risk for type 2 diabetes is not well known. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the risk of early onset or adult type 2 diabetes in adolescents with thyroid disease.
Bardugo A et al. 2021. Adolescent thyroid disorders and risk for type 2 diabetes in young adulthood. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 106(9):e3426–e3435 PMID: 34050759.