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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Thyroid Nodules
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Thyroid nodules are growths or lumps in the thyroid gland. This gland controls how your body uses energy. Most thyroid nodules are not cancer and do not cause problems. Many don't even need treatment. A thyroid nodule may cause problems, such as making too much thyroid hormone. When this happens, you may need treatment.
You are more likely to develop a thyroid nodule if:
Most thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms and are so small that you cannot feel them. If your thyroid nodule is large, your neck may be swollen or you may be able to feel the nodule. In rare cases, you may also:
If your doctor thinks you have a nodule, he or she will do a physical exam and will ask you if you have symptoms or about any changes in how you've been feeling.
You may have tests to see how well your thyroid is working. Possible tests include:
You may have a fine-needle aspiration to remove a small amount of material from the nodule to check for cancer.
If your nodule is not cancerous, your doctor will see you regularly to monitor the size of your nodule.
If a thyroid nodule is not cancer (is benign) and is not causing problems, your doctor will watch it closely for changes. But if the nodule is large or causing problems with swallowing or breathing, you'll need surgery to remove it.
If the nodule is causing hyperthyroidism, your doctor may recommend a dose of radioactive iodine. This most often comes in a liquid that you swallow. Or your doctor may have you take medicine (antithyroid pills) to slow down the hormone production. In some cases, surgery may be done to remove an overactive thyroid nodule.
If your nodule is cancer (malignant), you'll need surgery. This is done to remove the nodule and some or all of the thyroid. You may also need treatment with radioactive iodine to destroy any cancer cells that remain. After surgery, you may need to take thyroid medicine for the rest of your life.
Current as of:
December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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