is a gland located at the base of your neck above your collarbone
that is shaped somewhat like a butterfly. Sometimes there will
be abnormal growth of thyroid cells that will develop into a lump.
This lump is known as a thyroid nodule. A fluid filled cyst can
also cause the lump. When feeling your neck, it may seem like
there is only one lump, but it may be a collection of smaller
nodules. It is the most common of endocrine problems and there
is a 10% chance that you or someone you know will develop one.
The two most typical types of thyroid nodules
are colloid nodules and follicular neoplasms. Occasionally the
nodule will produce thyroid hormone without regard to the body’s
needs. In this case it is called an autonomous nodule and such
a situation can lead to hyperthyroidism. It is not yet known why
these non-cancerous nodules form. Current speculation is that
they are due to a lack of iodine in the diet or genetic defect.
They may also be present if the patient has Hashimoto’s
Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous, but
some (less than 10%) are, and require treatment.
Certain conditions may be an indicator that the nodule is cancerous:
if the nodule is hard or stuck to a nearby structure, if you have
a family history of various thyroid cancers including multiple
endocrine neoplasia Type II or medullary thyroid carcinoma, if
your voice is hoarse due to paralysis of the vocal cords, if you
are under 20 or over 70, or if you have had excessive radiation
to the head and/or neck.
There are a variety of exams or tests that can
be done to determine whether or not the thyroid nodule is cancerous.
If the nodule is not found to be cancerous, it needs to be monitored
regularly. This site is for general informational purposes only
and should never be used as a substitute for the advice and diagnosis
of a skilled medical professional.