What Is the Treatment for Thyroid Calcification?

Iodine deficiency can increase an individual's risk for developing thyroid calcification.
The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in the neck around the trachea and larynx.
Thyroid calcification may lead to the development of nodules within the thyroid.
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  • Written By: Jennifer Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Thyroid calcification is treated in different ways depending on the types of thyroid nodules the calcification has caused. Most benign nodules will not require treatment, but will need close monitoring and testing. Nodules that need treatment may require patients to go through thyroid hormone suppression therapy or surgery.

The thyroid is an endocrine gland shaped like a butterfly that is located in the neck, around the trachea and larynx. This gland uses iodine absorbed from food intake to create the T3 and T4 hormones. These two hormones work in conjunction with the hormone calcitonin, also produced by the thyroid, to help regulate the amounts of calcium in the blood. Problems with these three hormones and levels will lead to calcium accumulations.

Thyroid calcification refers to a build up of calcium that can lead to the development of nodules within the thyroid. The hormone imbalance that leads to nodules can be caused by a shortage in iodine that comes from food or conditions that cause an over-productive or under-active thyroid. Some autoimmune disorders, such as Grave’s disease, can result in thyroid problems as well.

Patients with thyroid calcification do not always notice symptoms right away. The symptoms that are experienced sometimes do not immediately indicate thyroid hormone troubles, such as anxiety or a heart arrhythmia. It is usually when nodules develop rapidly and become visible or can be felt under the skin that thyroid function tests are given to check hormone levels.

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Successful thyroid calcification treatment is dependent on the type of nodules that develop in the thyroid. Nodules can either be benign or malignant. Testing through tissue samples helps doctors diagnose the type of nodule properly.

After diagnosis, a patient with benign thyroid calcification nodules can undergo thyroid hormone suppression therapy if hormones are imbalanced. Radioactive iodine may be used to shrink nodules and reduce troublesome symptoms. For nodules that are malignant, surgical removal followed by chemotherapy treatment is commonly recommended. Surgical removal may also be necessary for benign nodules that impair a patient’s ability to breathe or swallow.

Thyroid calcification is not a common occurring condition. Although it can occur in a person of any age with active thyroid functions, age plays a role in the chances of calcification occurring. The likelihood of developing thyroid nodules increases as a person gets older. Senior citizens are more likely to develop nodules than a child. Children can develop this condition at a young age, particularly when genetic defects or underlying conditions influence the functions of the thyroid.

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Discuss this Article

anon930253
Post 5

My thyroid lit up on an x-ray my chiropractor performed. I didn't realize there was anything wrong, but I mentioned it during a routine endocrinology visit for monitoring of my diabetes. The doc told me that calcification could cause that to occur and she needed me to get an ultrasound. Then, I read this and realized that I was having the feeling my heart was racing intermittently. My PCP said it was heartburn and prescribed me an antacid. That didn't work.

So, apparently, this can be diagnosed without actually feeling the nodules.

anon344703
Post 4

I have had an ultrasound and CT scan done after they have found a lump in my throat. I had surgery done in 1978. I hope all you people who have had your thyroid keep up on your ultrasounds once a year. I was never told to do this and now I am going to have surgery again. Let's take care of ourselves.

ddljohn
Post 3

@fify-- With many other tumors, "calcification" is one of the signs that it is malignant. But this doesn't exactly apply to the thyroid because most thyroid nodules with calcifications actually turn out to be benign.

Plus, if it is a tumor, thyroid responds well to chemotherapy and doesn't cause as many problems as other tumors. If it's not a tumor, it will most likely go away with hormone or iodine treatment. It's really not as bad as it sounds.

candyquilt
Post 2

@fify-- I'm not a doctor or anything but I don't think that you have to wait until you see the nodules to get checked out. You can tell your doctor about your concern and tell him or her your symptoms. If required, you can get an x-ray or cat scan which will show if there is calcification or not.

Calcification in thyroid nodules are at risk for cancer, but it doesn't mean that it's definitely cancer. A biopsy will determine what it is. A lot of this is very specific to the patient and how much thyroid calcifications are there.

My ex-husband had this and his symptoms were a fast heart beat, anxiety and difficulty swallowing. He could actually feel the nodules because there was a lot of discomfort in his throat and a feeling that it was always full. He ended up getting a thyroidectomy because he didn't respond to any other treatment. His thyroid was working fine in the first place but the nodules were malignant so surgery was the only way to go.

fify
Post 1

I have hypothyroid (my thyroid doesn't work enough), and also have the symptoms mentioned here. I experience anxiety and heart arrhythmia regularly. I had my hormone levels checked recently and I've been on medication for some time but my doctor has never mentioned anything about thyroid calcification to me.

Is this something I should just not worry about unless I actually feel nodules in my neck?

I'm just curious because it sounds like a serious condition and if prevention or early diagnosis is possible, I would like to get checked out for it.

Also, are these nodules at risk of developing tumors? I remember my mom talking about a distant relative of ours who had thyroid calcification and cancer but I don't remember exactly.

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