Thyroid nodule

Alternative Names

Thyroid tumor; Thyroid adenoma; Thyroid carcinoma; Thyroid incidentaloma

Definition of Thyroid nodule

A thyroid nodule is a growth (lump) in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Thyroid nodules are growths of cells in the thyroid gland. These growths can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (). Some nodules are fluid-filled (cysts), while others are made of thyroid gland cells. Sometimes, what feels like one nodule will actually be a collection of small nodules.

Symptoms

Most thyroid nodules produce no symptoms.

Signs and tests

Very often, nodules produce no symptoms. Doctors will find thyroid nodules only during a routine physical exam or imaging tests that are done for another reason. However, thyroid nodules that are big enough to feel during a physical exam occur in a few people.

Treatment

Your health care provider may recommend surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland if the nodule is:

Expectations (prognosis)

Noncancerous thyroid nodules are not life threatening. Many do not require treatment, only follow-up. Noncancerous nodules that do need treatment have an excellent outlook.

Review

Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 4/19/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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