Thyroid nodules are lumps or cysts that form in the thyroid. Many are simply an overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue. These lumps can be buried deep in thyroid tissues or may be located near the edge and feel like a lump in the skin. In some cases, they can even be visible in the front of the neck. Most of the time they are found and identified during routine checkups.
Nodules may have no symptoms but are simply felt or seen by the patient or doctor. In some cases, they can cause pain or difficulty swallowing. Many thyroid nodules are benign. However, it is important to have nodules evaluated by a doctor right away so that if they are cancerous or precancerous, treatment can begin as soon as possible.
There are three questions the doctor will consider to determine if the thyroid nodules require treatment or removal:
- Is the nodule possibly cancerous or precancerous?
- Is the nodule pressing on other systems in the neck or causing symptoms?
- Does the nodule secrete too much thyroid hormone?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the doctor might recommend medical or surgical treatment.