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S Afr Med J. 2015 Sep 22;105(7):570-2. doi: 10.7196/SAMJnew.7885.

Nodular thyroid disease and thyroid malignancy: Experience at Polokwane Mankweng Hospital Complex, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

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Department of General Surgery, Polokwane Mankweng Hospital Complex and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane campus, Limpopo Province, South Africa.



Nodular thyroid disease is common throughout the world. Numbers of patients with goitre are increasing worldwide, as also noted in Limpopo Province, South Africa (SA). Globally, thyroid nodules have been reported in 4-7% of the population on neck palpation and in 30-50% by ultrasonography.


To review the profile of thyroid disease in patients with goitre presenting to the Department of Surgery at Polokwane Mankweng Hospital Complex (PMHC), Limpopo, SA, to characterise the pattern of malignancy in patients with goitre, and to determine the most common thyroid cancer.


A 6-year retrospective study (2003-2008) of all patients with thyroid nodules who underwent thyroid surgery at PMHC.


The study group included 90 patients (mean age 45 years, range 4-80). The male-to-female ratio was 1:17 (5 men, 85 women). Of these patients, 80 (89.9%) had benign lesions, of which 52 (57.8% of the total) were adenomas, 25 (27.8%) multinodular goitres (MNGs), 2 (2.2%) hyperplastic nodules and 1 (1.1%) Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Ten patients (11.1%) had malignant lesions (7 follicular carcinomas and 3 papillary carcinomas), of which 2 were found in MNGs.


Adenoma and MNG were the predominant non-malignant conditions (85.6%). The prevalence of thyroid cancer in our study was 11.1%, and of all 90 patients, 7.8% had follicular carcinoma. The risk of malignancy in MNG was 8.9%. Rates of thyroid nodules and carcinoma were highest in women aged 41-60 years. We advocate that total thyroidectomy be considered for MNG, because MNG can harbour incidental carcinoma.


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