Thyroid UK
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Hi. I underwent surgery for breast cancer last year and as a result of one of the scans, I was diagnosed with a retrosternal goitre, At the time of diagnosis, it was such a relief that it wasn't the cancer having spread, that I didn't ask a great deal of questions. My thyroid levels are normal. However, on my first annual visit back to see the breast surgeon, he frightened the life out of me! He asked if I had trouble swallowing and breathing and seemed amazed when I said no. He told me the goitre was the size of a fist in my chest and was pressing my windpipe. He was amazed that I had no problems. Truthfully, he seemed a bit excited about it and told me that the minute I had problems, I was to get my GP to refer me back directly to him. He said removal was a major operation and would involve a thoracic surgeon cracking my chest open! I have since done some research and one of the sites says that it is VERY rare for your chest to be opened and nearly all chest goitres can be accessed via the throat. Anyone any opinions on this?

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I had a retrosternal goitre removed six years ago and a thoracic surgeon had to be present just in case it wouldn't come out my neck. Apparently the goitre was huge ( I never asked exactly how big) and had grown a long way down but it popped out as soon as the cut was made! I did have compression problems and was reassured by the ent surgeon that he was as confident as possible that the thoracic surgeon wouldn't be needed but he had to be there just in case. I would make sure that you see a very experienced ent surgeon if you have to be referred anywhere.

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Thanks. I feel very reassured after reading your reply. All I've read so far says to find out how many of the procedures the surgeon has carried out before. Are you ok now? Did they remove your thyroid?

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I was completely fine (in fact better than before) until the start of this year when the modules on other half started to grow and i became hyper due to those and Graves antibodies showed up too so I have just had RAI to kill it off as there was no real chance of remission. I feel fine so far and am down to have four weekly blood tests to pick up when it dies. Good luck with your op if you end up having it removed.

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