Thyroid nodule

Thyroid nodules are abnormal growths in the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland that wraps around the windpipe (trachea). Most thyroid nodules are harmless, although a small percentage are cancerous.

Signs and symptoms of a thyroid nodule include:

  • Swelling or a lump in the thyroid gland.
  • Pain and tenderness in the thyroid gland.
  • Problems swallowing.
  • A hoarse or scratchy voice that does not go away.

If the thyroid nodule is making too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), symptoms may also include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, frequent bowel movements, a fast heartbeat, the inability to tolerate heat, irritability and anxiety, and muscle weakness.

Nodules that are not cancerous (benign) may be observed but not treated for a period of time. However, all or part of the thyroid gland may need to be surgically removed for cancerous (malignant) nodules, nodules in which cancer is suspected, and large benign nodules that cause problems with breathing or swallowing.

Last Updated: April 7, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology & Metabolism

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