An estimated 15 million people in the U.S. are suffering from some type of thyroid disorder that has yet to be properly diagnosed. An additional 15 million have been diagnosed and treated.
Thyroid nodules are a common clinical finding, with an estimated prevalence on the basis of palpation that ranges from 3% to 7%. The prevalence of clinically inapparent thyroid nodules is estimated with US at 20% to 76% in the general population, with prevalence similar to that reported from autopsy data. Moreover, 20% to 48% of patients with one palpable thyroid nodule are found to have additional nodules on ultrasound investigation *. One of the important services that an endocrinologist could offer is a needle biopsy of these nodules to help distinguish between benign nodules from cancerous ones. Benign nodules are often followed over time unless they cause local pressure symptoms or lead to hyperthyroidism. Cancerous nodules are referred to a thyroid surgeon for surgical removal.
Some of other thyroid disorders which are common in the population include disorders of thyroid function- hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and thyroiditis (thyroid inflammation) and disorders of thyroid structure- goiter (thyroid enlargement). Many of these are occur at a higher frequency in women than in men. An endocrinologist/thyroid specialist can evaluate for signs and symptoms of these disorders and order appropriate blood tests and scans to diagnose these conditions. Following this, a patient-specific treatment plan can be developed by the endocrinologist.