October 28, 2013

My Thyroid Story

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Copyright 2013 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(19):1769. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9279

When I was a first-year medical student just learning physical examination skills, a classmate felt a lump in my neck. A radioactive iodine scan revealed a “hot” nodule. I was advised that the nodule was likely benign, but I needed to have my thyroid checked and thyroid function tested annually. For 20 years I followed this advice, more or less, although I did not have my thyroid function tested annually. In 2000, during a visit to my primary care physician for an unrelated issue, she felt my neck and told me the lump seemed bigger. My endocrinology colleagues had been suggesting a fine-needle biopsy, but I had always quietly demurred. Now, it was my esteemed primary care physician who wanted me to have the biopsy performed. So I did, thinking it would show the benign nodule that I had had forever.

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