Thyroid nodules are tumors, most of which are benign, but some of which are malignant and invasive cancers. These tumors are treatable and increase in frequency with age. They are more common in women. Nodules are an enlargement of the thyroid gland that can often be felt by your physician at the time of physical examination. In patients with a history of prior radiation treatment to the neck, either near the thyroid gland or near a gland called the thymus (such radiation treatment was popular in past decades, although it is no longer used), the risk of nodules is high. These nodules tend to develop long after the treatment.
In patients who are at high risk but in whom no nodules are felt, other tests are used to identify the presence of nodular change in the thyroid gland. A biopsy of the nodule with a needle may be undertaken if there is any question of the diagnosis.
Important Points in Treatment
When the diagnosis is a malignant tumor, the treatment is removal of the tumor. For nodules that are not malignant, drug therapy is given, but if the nodules are causing pressure on surrounding tissues, their removal may be in order.
Notify Our Office If ...
- You note a swelling in your neck. Small lumps, which are enlarged lymph nodes, may come and go with colds, sore throats, or other respiratory infections. Persistent lumps should be brought to the attention of your physician.