Thinking that a painless swelling in the neck couldn’t lead to any health complication, 52-year-old Chembur housewife Lata Lokhande ignored it for years. Only after her operation at a city nursing home last week, Lokhande realised that she had a half kg tumour in her neck.
“The normal thyroid gland does not weigh more than 50-80 gram in adults. In this case however, it was weighing more than 500 gram,” said Dr Meenesh Juvekar, ENT (ear nose and throat) surgeon, Juvekars Nursing Home, Chembur. “This was one of the biggest thyroid tumours I have ever operated upon.”
Lokhande who was operated for the same tumour 29 years ago had ignored the swelling in her neck for many years. “I was suffering from breathlessness and had difficulty swallowing food which worsened in the last eight months,” said Lokhande.
During a routine check-up in March, Lokhande was advised a thyroid surgery at the earliest considering her symptoms were making it difficult for her to lead a normal life.
“With her age, the longevity of the problem and increase in the size of the gland, the chances of the tumour turning cancerous were high,” said Dr Juvekar.
Her breathlessness, difficulty in swallowing and change in voice was due to weight of the thyroid gland developed over the years, said doctors.
In the surgery that lasted for more than four hours, doctors removed more than four inches long and three inches thick tumour from her neck. “The nerve which causes vocal cord movements had to be preserved to prevent loss of voice post operation. It was a challenge because of the abnormal size of the tumour,” said Dr Juvekar.
On Wednesday, Lokhande was feeling relieved. “I ignored the problem for a long time. I shouldn’t have done that,” she said.
“Thyroid swelling is ignored because it is painless with relatively less symptoms in the initially stages. If ignored, it can lead to various complications such as cancer of thyroid gland, voice complications and extensive growth of tumour,” said Dr Dinesh Vaidya, head of department, ENT, Somaiya Hospital, Sion.