The Prevalence of Thyroid Nodules in Singapore

by | Feb 14, 2024

In Singapore, the incidence and prevalence of thyroid nodules have been the subject of extensive research, and thyroid disease is a common diagnosis.

Asian patient undergoing ultrasound of thyroid nodules and gland

Introduction to Thyroid Nodules in Singapore

People worldwide experience thyroid conditions with varying prevalence across different populations. Thyroid issues are relatively common and easy to treat. Nodules can be non-cancerous about 95% of the time and can cause various difficulties, such as sleep apnea or trouble swallowing. Many people choose to have them treated and reduce their risk of complications and cancer.

Some nodules lead to cancer. According to research from the Royal College of Surgeons in England, thyroid cancer in Singapore has more than doubled in the past 50 years, going from a rate of 2.5/100,000 in 1974 to 5.6/100,000 in 2013. Over this period, not only micropapillary cancers increased over time but also intermediate size cancers up to 5 cm. Thyroid cancer is the 8th most common type of cancer in Singapore.

How Many People in Singapore Have Thyroid Nodules?

The increasing incidence of thyroid cancer in Singapore can partially be attributed to an increase in the detection of micropapillary subtypes, among other factors, according to the NIH. A study investigated time trends in the incidence of thyroid cancer in Singapore, an iodine-sufficient area. Singapore’s population has shown a steady increase in diagnosing nodules and cancers over the years due to growing awareness and improved diagnostic capabilities in detecting these nodules.

Most people are unaware that they have thyroid nodules, but 8% of women and 2% of men have nodules large enough to detect by examination. That means that, at any given time, Singapore has about 545,000 citizens walking around with thyroid nodules that they should get checked out by a doctor. As a very common condition, thyroid nodules that are abnormal lumps (growths) within the thyroid gland can be seen in approximately 30% of adults. These are more commonly seen in females. There can be single or multiple thyroid nodules.

Because they are without symptoms, thyroid nodules tend to go undetected until they grow larger.


Who in Singapore is Most Affected by Thyroid Nodules?

Thyroid diseases, including conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and thyroid nodules, can affect individuals across various demographic groups. In Singapore, as in many other countries, these conditions can impact people of different ages, genders, and socioeconomic classes. However, it’s important to note that the prevalence of thyroid diseases can vary, and identifying specific groups at higher risk may require more detailed and updated epidemiological studies.

  • Age: Thyroid diseases can affect individuals of all ages, but certain conditions may be more prevalent in specific age groups. For example, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid disorder, occurs more often in middle-aged women.
  • Gender: Thyroid disorders are more common in women than in men, particularly true for autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Women are generally at a higher risk, especially during childbearing years.
  • Genetics: Thyroid disease is also influenced by genetics. People with a family history of thyroid disorders may be at a higher risk.
  • Iodine Levels: Iodine deficiency or excess can contribute to thyroid issues. Singapore has generally addressed iodine deficiency through salt iodization programs, but monitoring iodine levels is crucial.
  • Environmental Factors: Environmental exposures like radiation may increase the risk of thyroid nodules and cancers. According to the American Thyroid Association, “If thyroid cells absorb too much radioactive iodine, it can cause thyroid cancer to develop several years after the exposure.”
  • Socioeconomic Factors: While there is no clear evidence linking socioeconomic factors directly to thyroid diseases, access to healthcare and awareness may play a role in detecting and managing these conditions.

It’s important to consult local health authorities and research studies for the most accurate and current information regarding the prevalence of thyroid diseases in Singapore. Healthcare professionals can provide personalized information based on an individual’s health history, family history, and specific risk factors. If you have concerns about thyroid health, consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation.

Thyroid Nodule Cases in Singapore

95% or more thyroid nodules are harmless, but some will need treatment and further testing.

Cancer, in general, is the top killer of people in Singapore. From 2017-2021, an average of 46 people were diagnosed with cancer, and 16 people died of cancer every day in Singapore. For women, thyroid cancer is one of the top causes of death, but for men, it is less common. Mortality rates for thyroid carcinoma are 0.4–0.6 cases/100,000 individuals, a small number but a possibly tragic outcome for people whose cancer is more advanced or growing quickly.


Diagnosis and Treatment Facts in Singapore

A doctor may take several steps to diagnose thyroid nodules. The diagnostic journey often begins with a physical exam and a doctor’s visit. During this examination, your healthcare provider may feel around your neck for any abnormal growths or nodules on the thyroid gland.

Imaging studies are the next step in diagnosis. The most common imaging is ultrasound imaging. This non-invasive and painless procedure allows healthcare professionals to see the thyroid gland and any nodules it may contain. Ultrasounds can reveal more about the nodules’ size, shape, and characteristics, helping to determine their nature.

Sometimes, a doctor may also order a fine-needle aspiration (FNAC) biopsy,  a valuable diagnostic tool. Doctors use a thin needle with TNA to extract a small tissue sample. They then look at samples from the thyroid nodule with a microscope to find any abnormalities.

It’s important to note that the diagnostic process is personalized, and the choice of tests may vary based on individual circumstances. If you notice symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, changes in your voice, or a visible lump in your neck, promptly seek medical attention.

Early diagnosis and understanding of the nature of thyroid nodules are critical steps in formulating an appropriate and effective treatment plan to safeguard your thyroid health.

Treatment for Thyroid Nodules

There are several innovative treatments for thyroid nodules, such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Here are some treatments to be familiar with.

  • RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that gently targets and shrinks nodules using precise radiofrequency energy. Unlike traditional surgery, RFA ensures a quick recovery, minimal scarring, and a patient-focused approach, tailoring the treatment to your needs.
  • For some thyroid issues, thyroid hormone therapy is a viable option, which can help manage nodules by regulating hormone levels.
  • Your healthcare provider may suggest observation, especially for smaller nodules that don’t show concerning features.
  • Surgical removal, known as thyroidectomy, remains an option for larger or problematic nodules, although it involves a more extended recovery period.

Don’t wait if you’ve noticed symptoms like difficulty swallowing or a lump in your neck – early intervention matters. Taking proactive steps now can enhance your quality of life and provide peace of mind.

Understanding the range of treatments allows you to make informed decisions about your thyroid health.

Receive World-Class Thyroid Care Treatment in Singapore 

If you’ve noticed symptoms like difficulty swallowing or a lump in your neck, it’s essential to schedule an appointment today with a thyroid nodule specialist like Dr. Manish Taneja at the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic, a specialized thyroid nodule clinic in Singapore. You can discuss your situation, concerns, and the most suitable treatment approach, tailoring the plan to ensure your long-term well-being. Prioritize your thyroid health and maintain a vibrant, healthy future.

The rising incidence of thyroid nodules in Singapore carries significant public health implications. As thyroid nodules can be associated with thyroid cancer, understanding the prevalence and risk factors becomes paramount for early detection and intervention.

Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Treatment

Radiofrequency ablation aims to give patients a non-surgical option for treating thyroid nodules. This procedure is a minimally invasive option that a surgeon can perform, should the preliminary tests determine that you would benefit from it.
The Advantages of RFA of Thyroid Nodules
The major advantages of the technique are as below.

  1. It is done as day surgery procedure under light sedation.
  2. It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete the entire procedure.
  3. Patients are discharged the same day.
  4. Normal thyroid tissue adjacent to the nodule is preserved.
  5. It does not affect thyroid function.
  6. Multiple nodules can be treated at same time.
  7. The treated nodules do not regrow again.
  8. No surgical scar with needle mark on the skin.
  9. Quick recovery and back to full activity and normal lifestyle.
  10. The technique is suitable to treat even large thyroid nodules.

Find out how thyroid nodule Radiofrequency Ablation can help you in a minimally invasive way on our blog post, “Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment: Diagnosis,  Management, and Recovery.”

Find the Right Doctor

From family and internal medicine to specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja is the best in the field. As a vascular and interventional radiology specialist, Dr Manish Taneja looks after peripheral vascular disease, aneurysms, dialysis interventions, venous diseases like deep vein thrombosis, and varicose veins/spider veins/reticular veins. He is also competent in performing newer endovascular procedures such as uterine artery embolization, prostate artery embolization, genicular artery embolization, and erectile dysfunction interventions. Dr. Manish Taneja also has extensive experience in performing all vascular interventions, non-vascular interventions and interventional oncology procedures.

Read More About Vascular Treatments on Our Blog

To dive deeper into the types of vascular treatments such as thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation, head over to our clinic’s blog.  Read our recommended vascular treatments related blog posts to stay informed.

Thyroid Nodule Resources

How to Keep Thyroid Healthy for Optimal Well-Being

As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid hormones must be perfectly balanced at all times for the body to function normally.

Woman holding and using megaphone

Caring For Your Thyroid Health


Have you ever experienced difficulty swallowing or breathing? You may have risk factors including a family history of thyroid nodules or iodine deficiency. Thyroid nodules are abnormal lumps (growths) within the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located below your voice box. Even if most thyroid nodules are benign, 10-15% of nodules are cancerous. Sometimes overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue can lead to hyperthyroidism. In other cases, multiple nodules can form in the thyroid called multinodular goiter. Fluid filled thyroid cysts can be one type of thyroid nodule within the thyroid. More complex nodules may lead to thyroid cancers.

Depending on the root cause and type of nodule you have, patients can monitor with regular ultrasound or even have a thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAC) if required. Surgery to remove partial or whole thyroid gland can be done but thanks to minimally invasive treatments such as Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), this procedure can treat noncancerous and cancerous thyroid lumps.

Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer

Watch our video guide and find out more on our blog post, “Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer” with the types, causes, evaluation, biopsy, treatment options, and when to see a thyroid specialist. Find answers to questions on whether thyroid nodules are cancerous or not.

Arrange Your Appointment

Consult Vascular Specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various conditions and pain management. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our thyroid nodule specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.