Thyroid Calcification

Some Facts About Thyroid Calcification

Thyroid calcification is not the same as nodules. Calcification occurs when calcium is deposited on the thyroid as blood moves through the body. On the other hand, a nodule is a lump, but is not caused by calcium being deposited on the thyroid.

Some have heard about an increased risk of thyroid cancer in those who have experienced thyroid calcification. This is not really true, and if you read on you will find an explanation about how that rumor may have been started.

To say that one is at an increased risk for a certain disease following the presence or occurrence of a primary condition insinuates that the primary condition was a contributing factor leading to the disease. In other words, that thyroid calcification leads to thyroid cancer. That is not the case.

What has been found in numerous studies, however, is that those who have thyroid calcification also have thyroid cancer at a higher than average rate. The calcification is, in some cases, a symptom of the cancer, but it is not a cause of it.

Not everyone with thyroid calcification is more likely to have thyroid cancer. In general, if the patient has calcification in more than one gland then they are no more likely to have cancer than the rest of the population. However, if the calcification occurs only in one gland, they are more likely to have thyroid cancer.  

This does mean that 100% of people with thyroid calcification in one gland have cancer. It just means the risk is a bit higher for that segment of the population.

Those who have a thyroid nodule also have a slightly higher risk than average to show cancer, but not as much higher as is present with calcification.

Some nodules do not have any calcification while others do, to varying degrees.

The risk of thyroid calcification increases with age. As with many thyroid problems, they tend to be more common in women than in men. Still, men are still at risk for these problems.

Depending on the size of the thyroid calcifications, there can be complications as a result. For example, the hard lumps can actually affect the breathing pipes or have an impact on the veins causing blood flow problems.

In older women, the problem is often misdiagnosed. Because these calcifications often present as hard lumps, they are sometimes mistaken for cancer that originated in the breast or stomach. In addition to such misdiagnoses causing stress on the patient, it also puts off proper treatment of the actual problem.

Of course, if you feel any type of lump or hardening, it should not be ignored. It is possible that it is a calcification, but it could be something more serious. In any event, a lump of any sort is not normal and needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

As mentioned above, mistakes are sometimes made. That is why getting a second, unbiased opinion is always a good idea, especially when the diagnosis was serious and would require the patient to undergo unpleasant and potentially dangerous treatment.

Thyroid calcification is often harmless, but do not ignore it or there could be serious complications as a result.

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