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Thyroid Nodules Size: What You Need To Know

by | Feb 21, 2024

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid nodule or believe you may have one, first of all, don’t worry – you’re not alone. According to research, up to half of most people have at least one nodule in their life, but not all are large enough to notice. Nodules are common, and often, it’s the size that is important for your health. Most nodules – 95% are benign, meaning they are noncancerous.

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Introduction to Thyroid Nodule Size

Thyroid nodules are small lumps in the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in your neck. While most nodules are benign (non-cancerous), monitoring their size is vital. A growing nodule may indicate changes in your thyroid, and understanding these changes early on allows for proper management and intervention if needed.

The Importance of Checking Thyroid Nodule Size

When it comes to thyroid health, knowing the size of any nodules present is like having a key to unlock potential concerns.

It’s natural to wonder if the size of a thyroid nodule correlates with its danger level. In many cases, the size alone doesn’t necessarily determine whether a nodule is dangerous. While larger nodules might be more visible and easier to detect, their potential for causing complications depends on various factors, including their nature (benign or cancerous) and their impact on thyroid function.

 

Complications Associated with Larger Thyroid Nodules

  • Compression: One concern with large nodules is the potential for compression of nearby structures. As it grows, it may press against the trachea (windpipe) or esophagus, leading to symptoms like difficulty swallowing or tightness in the throat.
  • Thyroid Dysfunction: Larger nodules can disrupt the thyroid gland’s functions, causing hormone imbalances and affecting your metabolism, energy levels, and overall well-being.
  • Aesthetic Concerns: While not directly impacting health, bigger nodules may become more noticeable and cause visible swelling in the neck. The swelling can be a source of cosmetic concern for some individuals.
  • Risk of Malignancy: Although most thyroid nodules are benign, the cancer risk can increase with the size of the nodule. However, the majority of all sizes of nodules are still non-cancerous.

 

What is the Normal Size of the Thyroid?

The standard thyroid size can vary among individuals, but typically, it’s about the size of a walnut. Imagine a small butterfly perched at the base of your neck – where your thyroid is situated. A healthy thyroid produces hormones that regulate various bodily functions, including metabolism and energy levels. However, when nodules develop, they can alter the size and function of the thyroid.

 

Basic Information About Thyroid Nodules:

  • Common Occurrence: Thyroid nodules are quite common, especially as people age. A doctor may find them during a routine physical examination or when individuals notice swelling or discomfort in their neck.
  • Symptoms: Often, thyroid nodules don’t cause noticeable symptoms. However, some people may experience difficulty swallowing, a lump in the throat, or voice changes.
  • Diagnostic Tests: If your healthcare provider suspects a thyroid nodule, they may order an ultrasound or fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy to examine the nodule’s size and structure and determine if it’s cancerous or benign.

Remember, knowledge is power. Awareness of your thyroid nodule size empowers you to take charge of your health so you can promptly report any worries to your doctor. If you have concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your healthcare provider. They are here to guide you in achieving optimal thyroid health.

 

Thyroid Nodule Sizes and the Potential Need for Surgery:

For thyroid nodules, size plays a significant role in determining the need for surgery. Generally, nodules over 4 centimeters (about 1.5 inches) raise concerns, as they are more likely to cause symptoms and potentially lead to complications. Doctors don’t operate based on size alone. The decision for surgery involves factors like symptoms, characteristics of the nodule, and a patient’s health. According to the American Thyroid Association, cancer increases when a nodule is more than 2cm.

Nodule Growth:

Nodules can expand slowly over time for various reasons, including an increase in the number of cells or fluid accumulation within the nodule. Monitoring the growth of these nodules is essential for timely intervention and management.

Expert Thyroid Nodule Imaging:

Accurate imaging is critical to assessing nodules effectively. Healthcare workers use diagnostic tools such as ultrasound, fine needle aspiration (FNA), and thyroid scans to gather detailed information.

  • Diagnostic Ultrasound: This non-invasive procedure uses sound waves to create images of the thyroid. It helps determine the nodule’s size, structure, and characteristics.
  • Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA): In cases where a nodule raises suspicion, FNA involves using a thin needle to extract a small tissue sample for examination. This biopsy helps identify whether the nodule is benign or potentially cancerous.
  • Thyroid Scans: These scans involve using a small amount of radioactive material to highlight areas of the thyroid. They can reveal if nodules are overactive (hot) or underactive (cold), providing additional insights into their nature.

Monitoring and Regular Screenings:

Regular monitoring of thyroid nodules is essential, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with one. Your healthcare provider will recommend a schedule for follow-up appointments and imaging studies to track any changes in size or characteristics. This proactive approach ensures that necessary interventions, such as surgery or other treatments, can be implemented promptly.

 

The Relationship Between Thyroid Sizes and Cancer

The size of a thyroid nodule is crucial in assessing its potential for cancer. While the majority of nodules are benign, larger ones, especially those exceeding 4 centimeters, raise concerns and may indicate a higher risk of cancer. It’s imperative to recognize that the correlation between size and cancer risk is not absolute, and many smaller nodules can also be malignant. Learn more in detail on our informative blog post, “Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer”.

If you discover a thyroid nodule or experience symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or a noticeable lump in your neck, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional promptly. Early detection and accurate diagnosis through imaging studies, such as ultrasound and fine needle aspiration, enable timely intervention and appropriate management.

Your health is a priority, and seeking medical attention ensures the best possible outcome for your thyroid health.

 

Thyroid Treatment in Singapore

In addressing problematic thyroid nodules, minimally invasive procedures have emerged as effective alternatives, offering patients less invasive options for managing troublesome nodules.

One popular procedure is Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), which uses radiofrequency waves to shrink or eliminate nodules. This method is a gift for those who may not be suitable for surgery or prefer a less invasive approach. 

Our health center in Singapore takes pride in offering these advanced and patient-friendly solutions. Our vascular expert and skilled thyroid doctor specializes in thyroid health, ensuring you receive the highest quality care. With a commitment to your well-being, we strive to provide comprehensive services, including minimally invasive procedures, to address your thyroid concerns effectively and with the utmost precision. Your health is our priority, and we are here to guide you through every step of the process.

 

Schedule A Consultation Today

If you’ve noticed a thyroid nodule or are experiencing symptoms related to thyroid health or nodules, take action today. Schedule an appointment with our experienced, dedicated medical expert at our thyroid clinic in Singapore. Dr. Manish Taneja is ready to provide personalized and compassionate care.

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.

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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.