Thyroid nodules are abnormal lumps (growths) within the thyroid gland. It is a butterfly shaped bland in the neck just below the voice box. It is a very common condition seen in approximately 30% of adults. These are more commonly seen in females. There can be single or multiple thyroid nodules.
Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer
There are a lot of misconceptions about thyroid nodules and other thyroid disorders. This not only leads to confusion but also contributes to delays in diagnosis and treatment of the conditions. To protect your health, it is important to have basic knowledge of thyroid lumps. This includes how they occur, thyroid risk factors, diagnosis and the treatment options available. That way, you will be better able to prevent cancerous thyroids and make informed decisions when it comes to treating these lumps.
Here’s what to know.
How Common are Thyroid Nodules?
Thyroid lumps are very common. Studies show that the prevalence of the disorder in various countries ranges from 21.3 percent to 68 percent. These are more commonly seen in females. There can be single or multiple thyroid nodules.
Understand the symptoms, prevention, causes, risk factors, and more of thyroid nodules and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as a minimally invasive treatment option in our other blog post.
Types of Thyroid Nodules
A thyroid nodule is an unusual lump in or on the thyroid gland, which is located at the front of the neck. The lumps are typically caused by the abnormal overgrowth of cells in the gland and can be solid or filled with fluid. There are different types of thyroid nodules:
Non cancerous Thyroid Nodules
The most common are benign thyroid nodules (non cancerous).
Toxic Nodules (Hyperthyroidism)
These nodules can cause an overactive thyroid, a condition called hyperthyroidism. This is where the gland produces too much thyroid hormone.
When several nodules form in the thyroid, the condition is known as a multinodular goiter or enlarged thyroid. Thyroid enlargement can cause difficulty in breathing and eating.
Thyroid cysts are nodules filled with fluid. If the nodule is partly filled with fluid and partly solid, it is called a complex nodule.
Are Thyroid Nodules Cancer?
The vast majority of thyroid nodules are benign (noncancerous). Only about 10 to 15 percent of thyroid lumps are cancerous. To determine whether a nodule is cancerous, visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. It’s important to go for a checkup if you’re worried.
Types of Thyroid Cancer
The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a painless lump or swelling in the neck. Sometimes, you may notice a swollen lymph node instead. There are different types of thyroid cancer, based on the type of cells from which they grow. They include:
Differentiated Thyroid Cancer
Most thyroid cancers are differentiated cancers. This form of cancer develops from the cells that produce thyroid hormones. When viewed under a microscope, the cells in these cancers appear similar to healthy cells. Types of differentiated thyroid cancers include:
- Papillary thyroid cancer
- Follicular thyroid cancer
- Hurthle cell thyroid cancer
- Poorly differentiated thyroid cancer
Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), or medullary thyroid cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the thyroid cells called C cells. MTC is more aggressive than papillary and follicular cancers, and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Also known as anaplastic thyroid carcinoma, this is the most undifferentiated type of thyroid cancer. It is called undifferentiated because the cells in the cancer look the least like normal thyroid cells. These tumors grow quickly and will usually spread to the surrounding tissues and other parts of the body.
Thyroid lymphoma develops from the immune system cells of the thyroid. The cancer occurs when abnormal lymphocytes grow and accumulate in the thyroid.
Thyroid Nodules Evaluation and Biopsy
If you have any of the symptoms of thyroid nodules, see a healthcare provider. Searching “thyroid nodule doctor near me” online will help you find a good provider.
The main goals when assessing a thyroid nodule are to determine if it is cancerous and to check thyroid function. Tests to help evaluate and diagnose a thyroid nodule may include:
Physical exam: Your doctor will assess the size and consistency of the nodule. You may need to swallow repeatedly while the provider examines your thyroid.
Thyroid function tests: A thyroid blood test checks the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood and whether your thyroid is functioning properly.
Ultrasound: A thyroid ultrasound will produce images of your thyroid gland. It will also provide more information about the shape and structure of the nodules.
Fine-needle biopsy: A very thin needle is used to remove a sample of cells from the nodules. The samples are then sent to the lab for evaluation to determine whether cancer is present.
Thyroid scan: A small amount of radioactive iodine is administered either through injection or orally. A special camera is then used to take pictures of your thyroid.
Thyroid Nodule Treatments
Treatment for thyroid lumps will depend on the root cause and type of nodule you have. Thyroid nodule management may involve:
Observation: If the nodule is small and noncancerous, you may never need treatment. However, regular physical exams and thyroid tests may be necessary to check for any changes in the nodules.
Medication: For nodules that cause hyperthyroidism, your doctor may recommend anti-thyroid medications to help reduce the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Radioactive iodine: Radioactive iodine is taken as a pill or in liquid form, and is absorbed by the thyroid gland. This causes the nodules to shrink, treats hyperthyroidism and destroys cancer cells.
RFA treatment: Thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally-invasive technique that uses heat to shrink the size of nodules and restore thyroid function. It can be used to treat noncancerous and cancerous thyroid lumps.
Surgery: Your doctor may recommend thyroid surgery to remove large noncancerous nodules. Surgery is also one of the best treatments for cancerous nodules.
When to Worry and See a Specialist
Oftentimes, thyroid lumps are noncancerous and do not cause problems. However, you should see a specialist in case you:
- Have larger than average nodules
- Have problems swallowing and breathing
- Experience thyroid pain
- Are showing symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
- Are showing symptoms of thyroid cancer
If you experience any of the above, you may wonder “How do I find a thyroid nodule clinic near me?” A simple search on the internet will point you in the right direction.
Looking for a good thyroid nodule specialist in Singapore? Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic in Singapore provides cutting-edge treatments for various vascular and nonvascular disorders. We have the expertise and experience needed to treat your thyroid nodules. Contact us to arrange your appointment.
The Advantages of RFA of Thyroid Nodules
The major advantages of the technique are as below.
- It is done as day surgery procedure under light sedation.
- It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete the entire procedure.
- Patients are discharged the same day.
- Normal thyroid tissue adjacent to the nodule is preserved.
- It does not affect thyroid function.
- Multiple nodules can be treated at same time.
- The treated nodules do not regrow again.
- No surgical scar with needle mark on the skin.
- Quick recovery and back to full activity and normal lifestyle.
- The technique is suitable to treat even large thyroid nodules.
Read more about the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic’s management and treatment of thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
Read More About Thyroid Nodule Treatments on Our Blog
To dive deeper into the types of thyroid nodule treatments, head over to our clinic’s blog.
Read our recommended thyroid nodule related blog posts to stay informed.
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