A thyroid nodule is a growth of thyroid tissue or a fluid-filled cyst that forms a lump in the thyroid gland. Nodules are very common. The chances of developing nodules in the thyroid gland increase as you get older. Symptoms are not common, but a large nodule enough may cause pain or hoarseness, or get in the way of swallowing or breathing.
Doctors are concerned about thyroid nodules, because they can sometimes be cancerous. Thyroid cancer is found in about 8 percent of nodules in men (or 8 out of 100) and in 4% of nodules in women. Thus, about 90% of all thyroid nodules are benign (non-cancerous).
The cause of most benign nodules is not known, but they are often found in members of the same family. Worldwide, lack of iodine in the diet is a very common cause of nodules.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What kind of nodules do I have?
- Am I at risk for thyroid cancer?
- What treatment do I need?
- What are the risks and benefits of each of my treatment options?
- Should I see an endocrinologist?