What are thyroid nodules?

Your thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck. Sometimes the cells of the thyroid will develop into small lumps called nodules. Although it may seem like there is only one lump, it may be a large collection of smaller nodules. Usually there are no symptoms from these nodules, and often times people don't even realize that they have them until they are looked at by a doctor for something unrelated such as a cold or sore throat.

Approximately 90 percent of thyroid nodules are not cancerous. The reason that they grow on the thyroid is not yet known, but there are a couple of different speculations. The first is that the person with the nodules lacks iodine in their diet, and the second is that the growth is simply genetic and not due to any outside influences. Regardless of the cause, if you or your doctor discover that you have a thyroid nodule, it will likely need to be checked.

One of the test that can be done is known as a fine needle biopsy. In this test, the doctor uses a needle and removes cells from the inside of the nodule. This is a simple procedure that can be performed at a doctor's office. Another thing that can be done is an ultrasound. This will give the doctor an idea of the characteristics and shape and is useful in choosing the exact spot for the fine needle biopsy. Another option is a thyroid scan, in which the patient is given a small amount of radioactive material as part of a test to determine if the nodule is malignant. A malignant nodule will not absorb the material as quickly as a benign one.

If the cells are determined to be cancerous, it will need to be removed with surgery. If the cells are not cancerous, then typically the doctor will want to monitor the growth of the nodules to make sure that they are staying the same. Changes may indicate to the doctor that it is time for another biopsy. The doctor also may prescribe a drug that slows the production of thyroid hormone.

One other issue that may exist is that the thyroid cells may start producing additional thyroid hormone causing excessive thyroid hormone to be produced. In this case the nodule may produce the same symptoms as hypothyroidism.

To learn more detailed information, please continue to this Thyroid Nodules website.

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