Mayo Moments

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Questions and Answers

In response to the previous post, we were asked some very good questions; it made me realize in hind sight that in my attempt to avoid over dramatizing the situation, I may have in fact mislead everyone as to the serious nature of what we are facing.  I wanted to address those questions.

  1. .......You may want to research the side-effects of biopsies before going ahead with one. Did you know that if there are cancerous cells, a biopsy can increase the risk of spreading these cells from this localized area?
  2. My mum had been told she had a thyroid nodule and was told to have a biopsy. I cautioned her about it so she only had an ultrasound instead and opted to take natural means and supplements to get her thyroid back to normal - she'd never seen her doctor so upset with her before!   Anyway, about 8 months later, she took another ultrasound test (one of the safer medical tests) and her tests were fine - no thyroid nodules!
  3. ....what are the doctors going to suggest as a solution? Surgery and thyroid med's for life? 
  4. I just wanted to let you know of other options in case you wanted to investigate them further......

The first question I would like to address is the Fine Needle Biopsy.  Leah will be undergoing an Ultrasound Guided Fine Needle Biopsy.

Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNA): An introduction

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy is a simple procedure that involves passing a thin needle through the skin to sample fluid or tissue from a cyst or solid mass, as can be seen in the picture below. The sample of cellular material taken during an FNA is then sent to a pathology laboratory for analysis. Fine needle aspiration biopsies are often performed when a suspicious lump is found, for example a breast lump or enlarged lymph node, or if an abnormality is detected on an imaging test such as x-rayultrasound or mammography. Fine needle aspiration is a relatively non-invasive, less painful and quicker method when compared to other methods of tissue sampling such as surgical biopsy. A cyst aspiration can also be achieved with a FNA, where the fluid is drained from a cyst with no need for analysis........The risks of fine needle aspiration biopsy include the possibility of cancer cells being trailed into unaffected tissue as the needle is removed, but this is rare when the test is performed by skilled practitioners. 
Fine Needle Aspiration 

Is there a risk of cancerous cells being trailed behind?  Yes there is, but looking at the overall picture, I would rather take that risk than the risk of not finding cancerous cells at all.  Ultrasound alone can not reliably offer a diagnosis of whether a nodule is malignant or not.  Without the FNAB we are putting her at a very great risk.  We can not afford to stick our heads in the sand with this.  As it stands right now, Leah has a 25% chance that the biopsy will reveal cancerous cells.  If you had a 1 in 4 chance of winning the lottery you would buy a ticket right? - you would think the odds are in your favour?

Question #2 - It is a medically accepted fact that thyroid nodules in children represent a higher risk.  Both because they are relatively rare in children and because if they turn out to be malignant, it is very aggressive.

  • Thyroid nodules in children present a much higher risk of malignancy that in adults (25% versus 5%) .2  In light of this finding, all thyroid nodules in children must be considered worrisome until proven otherwise using ultrasound (US) and fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB).  Nodules bearing low-risk cytology findings need to be closely monitored with interval US to confirm that there is no change in size. 

  • Thyroid nodules are uncommon in children before puberty (1.5% or less). Any nodule discovered in such an age group should therefore be viewed with suspicion and the diagnostic approach should be more aggressive in children than in adults because they are more often malignant than in adults. The mean incidence of thyroid carcinomas in childhood thyroid nodules which were operated on is summarized in Table 1⇓ and shows an overall 26.4% risk of cancer.

Supplements - I spend hours and hours researching a natural approach to helping Leah - as a compliment to the medical interventions, not as a stand alone approach.  I have read books and research papers by so called "experts" and so much is contradictory.  I can do real harm to Leah if I make the wrong decisions on supplements and natural interventions.  Keeping in mind that she is not just dealing with thyroid issues.  She has an ongoing Autoimmune Disease that is affecting many areas in her body and it is a very misunderstood disease and not much is known about it as a whole.  Currently we are modifying her diet, eliminating all soy and goitrogens
  • Goitrogenic foods: Goitrogenic are foods that can affect thyroid function by inhibiting synthesis of thyroid hormones, resulting in enlargement of the gland (goiter). Goitrogenic foods include Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, radishes, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower.
She is taking an excellent quality mulitvitamin, Vitamin C and an excellent quality of Amino 3s for brain health. 

As well, she is set to go see an allergist to rule out food allergies and/or gluten intolerance that may be contributing to the high immune response in her body.

She sees a massage therapist to help with the aches and pains from her body's inflammatory response that is so commonly seen in Autoimmune Disorders.

To assist with her nutritional deficits due to a very poor appetite she chooses one of these each day.  She is 10th percentile for weight and 25th percentile for height - she used to be between the 70 and 85th percentiles for both.

PediaSure SideKicks® Clear ImagePediaSure® Image

Question #3 - Leah is already on a lifelong course of thyroid meds.  Her thyroid has already been damaged beyond repair.  Our goal at this point is to minimize any further damage and to support it with the thyroid meds so it can continue to produce the natural hormones for as long as possible.  The current thinking in the medical field is this is the only way to treat it.  Unfortunately I don't accept this answer and continue to look for ways to minimize the immune reaction and therefore minimize the damage to the thyroid.  There are lots of information out there supporting my thinking and we will continue to research this.

And of course it goes without saying, should the biopsy show cancerous cells there will be a surgery of some sort - whether that means a full thyroidectomy or just removal of the left lobe would be decided if/or when necessary.

Question #4 - We are always looking for and open to options, innovations, solutions....anything!  No decision is made without HOURS and HOURS and HOURS of research, thought, prayer and discussion.  I belong to several forums and groups of parents of children with Hashimoto's and groups for adults with Hashimoto's.  This way I can find out what is being prescribed for other patients, what their medical care plans are, what has worked for them at home, what supplements or alternative therapies they are using and so on.

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