What are Thyroid Nodules?
Thyroid Nodules are an abnormal growth of thyroid cells that cause a lump within the thyroid gland. Most thyroid nodules are benign (non-cancerous), only a small percentage (4-6.5%) are cancerous requiring additional intervention. The image below highlights thyroid nodules detected by a Health Nucleus MRI.
Why does it happen?
- While thyroid nodules are very common, it is unknown why the majority develop.
- In some cases, iodine deficiency may be the cause.
What are the risk factors for thyroid nodules?
People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, or neck radiation exposure may have a higher incidence of thyroid nodules.
What are possible symptoms?
Most thyroid nodules do not cause any symptoms however, someone may feel a lump on their neck. In rare cases someone may develop pain in the neck, jaw, or ear; if large enough a nodule can cause troubles with breathing and/or swallowing.
Is there additional testing?
Thyroid nodules are often found by palpation during a physical exam, CT, MRI, PET-scan, or carotid ultrasound. Upon initial findings your medical provider will help determine if further testing by dedicated thyroid ultrasound is indicated. Depending upon ultrasound finds your medical provider may want a fine needle aspiration (biopsy) or may decide to continue monitoring by ultrasound.
What are possible treatments?
Most thyroid nodules are benign and require no treatment. However, please review with your primary care provider to determine if treatment is necessary for you.
Where can I get more information?
For additional information, please seek further guidance from your primary care provider.
Haugen, B.R., Alexander, K., Bible, C., Doherty, M., Mandel, J., Nikiforov, E., Pacini, F., Randolph, W., Sawka, M., Schlumberger, M., Schuff, G., Sherman, I., Sosa J.A., Steward, L., Tuttle, R., & Wartofsky, L. Thyroid. January 2016, 26(1): 1-133. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/thy.2015.0020
Ross, D. S. (2017). Diagnostic approach to and treatment of thyroid nodules. In D. S. Cooper & J. E. Mulder (Eds.), UptoDate. Available from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnostic-approach-to-and-treatment-of-thyroid-nodules?search=thyroid%20nodule&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~141&usage_type=default&display_rank=1#H17