What are thyroid nodules?

The Thyroid 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 disease.

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.

Copyright 2009 ThyroidNodules.org All rights reserved. Privacy Policy