Thyroid Nodules

What are thyroid nodules?

Thyroid nodules are round or oval-shaped growths in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is in the middle of the neck. Thyroid nodules are common and are not usually harmful to a person's health. But sometimes, thyroid nodules are caused by a serious condition, such as cancer.

The thyroid gland makes a hormone called "thyroid hormone." Most thyroid nodules do not change the amount of thyroid hormone in the body. But some cause the thyroid gland to make too much thyroid hormone. This can cause symptoms.

What are the symptoms of a thyroid nodule?

Some people do not have any symptoms. They might find out that they have a thyroid nodule when their doctor feels it during a routine exam. Or a doctor might find nodules on an imaging test that was done for another condition. Other people have symptoms. For example, they might feel or see a lump in their neck.

Or they have symptoms from having too much thyroid hormone, such as:

  • Feeling worried or upset, or having trouble sleeping
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Having a fast heartbeat
  • Having frequent bowel movements

Will I need tests?

Yes, your doctor will want to make sure that the thyroid nodule is not a threat to your health. Tests usually include blood tests and an imaging test of the thyroid called an ultrasound. Sometimes, people need more tests.

These include:

  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Thyroid scan

How are thyroid nodules treated?

Thyroid nodules are treated in different ways, depending on their cause and how much thyroid hormone is in the body. Different treatments include:

  • Watching and waiting – Doctors don't always treat thyroid nodules right away. Dr Alzubaidy might watch a thyroid nodule if it is small and doesn't look serious. But he will follow it closely to see if it grows bigger or needs to be treated. This means you might have another thyroid ultrasound and sometimes another fine needle aspiration.
  • Surgery to remove one or both sides of the thyroid
  • Radioactive iodine –It has a small amount of radiation and can destroy a lot of the thyroid gland. It is used only to treat nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. It is not safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • A procedure to drain fluid from the thyroid nodule, if it is filled with fluid