National Thyroid Awareness Month: What you Need to Know about Thyroid Nodules
A thyroid nodule is a growth of thyroid tissue that can sometimes present as a lump in the thyroid gland. According to the National Library of Medicine, thyroid nodules are detected by physical examination in approximately 5-7% of adults. Thyroid nodules are fairly common, and most nodules are benign or non-cancerous. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 90% of nodules are benign. However, although less common, some nodules do contain cancer.
This National Thyroid Awareness Month, we’re sharing what you need to know about thyroid nodules.
Unfortunately, there is no known cause for most thyroid nodules, even though they are common. There are a few risk factors for developing thyroid nodules, including:
Causes and Risk Factors
- Increasing age
- Living in areas of iodine deficiency
- Exposure to radiation
Thyroid Nodule Symptoms
Generally, thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms and blood tests like thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) are normal. Though rare, some patients have described symptoms such as:
- Pain in the neck, jaw, or ear
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- A feeling of fullness in the neck
Because symptoms do not usually occur, it’s important to get regular checkups and that you make sure your doctor checks your neck.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is not possible to differentiate benign from cancerous nodules by symptoms or clinical exams alone. Once a nodule is discovered specialized tests, such as an ultrasound and fine needle biopsy, may be recommended. If you have been diagnosed with a nodule, we offer a Thyroid Nodule Fast Track Program which guarantees you an appointment within two weeks.
Our thyroid ultrasounds and biopsies are done on-site in the comfort of an outpatient setting for your convenience. If you have a thyroid nodule that requires a biopsy, this procedure will be performed in our office with ultrasound-guided technology. In some cases, benign nodules may need to be removed surgically. If surgery is not recommended, your doctor will monitor the nodule for changes.
Thyroid patients can expect to see their endocrinologist in addition to a physician extender in developing and maintaining a treatment plan for their condition. We don’t believe in a “one size fits all” treatment plan. Our providers take the time to get to know their patients and work diligently to find a plan that is based upon the patient’s needs.
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