Spotlight on Endocrine Surgeon Denise Carneiro-Pla, M.D.

Lauren Hooker
January 28, 2022
Endocrine Surgeon Denise CarneiroPla

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Endocrine surgeon Denise Carneiro-Pla, M.D., FACS discusses important topics in the surgical management of thyroid disease, including the importance of personalized care.

Thyroid disease is prevalent, ranging from thyroid function abnormality to thyroid nodules and cancer. Many thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, can be managed with medication.

In hyperthyroidism, where the gland produces excess hormones, personalized care can include medical or surgical intervention depending on the condition. Surgical intervention is an option for goiter, thyroid nodules, hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancers. Thyroid nodules are lumps inside the thyroid gland and are present in about 60% of the population. Around 5% of these nodules are malignant and usually require surgical intervention.

According to endocrine surgeon Denise Carneiro-Pla, M.D., larger thyroid nodules can be found when patients have trouble swallowing or they can be felt or seen in their neck. Often, smaller nodules are detected during a routine medical examination or imagining.

Even though most nodules will be benign, it’s still important to see an endocrine surgeon or endocrinologist for evaluation. “Thyroid nodules often require biopsy to determine if the thyroid needs to be removed or not.” said Carneiro-Pla. “The great majority of these lesions can be followed by the patients’ primary care physician or endocrinologist, however surgical intervention is often recommended.”

Both Dr. Carneiro-Pla and her partner, endocrine surgeon Mahsa Javid, M.D. Ph.D., are among a handful of trained endocrine surgeons in South Carolina. “Thyroid surgery is a delicate procedure where experience is of particular importance for proper management and excellent outcomes,” explained Carneiro-Pla.

“When a patient is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, our multidisciplinary team at our NCI-designated cancer center have the expertise to provide personalized care for each patient,” said Carneiro-Pla. “The endocrine tumor board consists of endocrine surgeons, endocrinologists, oncologists, pathologists, cytologists, and radiologists. Our combined expertise and multidisciplinary collaboration offer a patient-focused approach to provide the best possible outcomes.”