Do you have a thyroid nodule? It can be a very worrying time. You may not know what to expect, or how to proceed. Don’t worry, help is at hand. We’re going to look at what thyroid nodules are, how they are diagnosed, and how they can be treated.
What Is A Thyroid Nodule?
The thyroid gland is found within the neck, and produces thyroid hormones that control how the body uses energy and makes proteins. Thyroid nodules are lumps that occur on the thyroid gland. These nodules can come in varying sizes and can sometimes be felt by patients as a lump on the throat. If the nodules are particularly large, or if the person with the nodules has a thin neck, this lump may become visible.
Are Thyroid Nodules A Sign Of Thyroid Cancer?
Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous. The most common thyroid nodules are benign thyroid adenomas; a minority are malignant. Nevertheless, it’s important that you seek medical attention if you feel that you have thyroid nodules, as early diagnosis and treatment helps secure positive outcomes.
Thyroid Nodule Diagnosis
If you suspect that you have thyroid nodules you should contact an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) or endocrinologist. Typically, an ultrasound scan will be carried out to determine the condition of the thyroid gland, and a fine needle biopsy may be carried out. Blood tests may also be carried out to measure the levels of thyroid secreted hormone. The ultrasound image will be used to determine the size and position of the nodules, and whether they are solid or fluid filled.
How Thyroid Nodules Are Treated
Once a thyroid nodule has been identified, an otolaryngologist will take steps to learn more about its character. Fine needle aspiration cytology may be used, in which a small needle collects a few cells of the nodule so that they may be examined under a microscope to help pinpoint a diagnosis. For some patients, it will be recommended that they simply have regular ultrasounds to monitor the nodules. Others may be treated with medications, while some thyroid nodules are best treated by surgical removal of part of the entire thyroid gland.