Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. Therefore treating thyroid problem can range from a small, harmless goitre (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism. Endocrinologists are specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands. The diseases they are trained to treat often affect other parts of the body beyond glands. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for diseases and conditions directly related to glands they will usually send a patient to an endocrinologist. Thyroid problem treatment requires suppressing the manufacture of thyroid hormone, while hypothyroidism demands hormone replacement. Conventional medicine offers extremely effective techniques for lowering, eliminating or supplementing hormone production. Thyroid disease suspected by clinical history and physical exam is confirmed by laboratory tests. Laboratory tests usually measure levels of TSH and thyroid hormones. Serology tests can measure the levels of antibodies associated with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. If your doctor suspects thyroid cancer, a biopsy can be used to sample the thyroid tissue and test for cancer. The usual treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement therapy. With this treatment, synthetic thyroid hormone is taken by mouth to replace the missing thyroid hormone. Treatment for thyroid cancers often involves some combination of thyroidectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid gland), radioactive iodine, radiation therapy (less common), anticancer medications, and hormone suppression.
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