A thyroid nodule is a lump within the thyroid, caused by an abnormal growth of thyroid cells. Although the majority of thyroid nodules are noncancerous, a slim portion of them do contain thyroid cancer. There is a 10% chance that you or someone you know will develop a thyroid nodule, making it the most common endocrine problem in the United States.
Most thyroid nodules do not cause any symptoms, but if the nodule is large enough it may cause difficulty swallowing or a shortness of breath, if it is pressing on the windpipe. A few patients with thyroid nodules may complain of pain in the neck, jaw, or ear. However, in most cases, your doctor usually discovers them during a routine physical examination.
We do not know what causes most noncancerous thyroid nodules to form. A patient with hypothyroidism may, for example, also have a thyroid nodule. Sometimes a lack of iodine in the diet can cause a thyroid gland to produce nodules, while some autonomous nodules have a genetic defect that causes them to grow.
Patients suffering from thyroid cancer should know that it is curable and rarely life-threatening. Thyroid nodules that are found to contain a thyroid cancer, or that are highly suspicious of containing a cancer, should be removed surgically. If a thyroid nodule is not removed it needs to be watched closely, with an examination of the nodule every 6 to 12 months.
To learn more about thyroid nodules, contact Beverly Hills thyroid nodule expert, Dr. Larian, today by calling 310.461.0300.