Thyroid nodules are abnormal growths that form in a thyroid gland that is otherwise healthy. Typically asymptomatic (not showing symptoms) it is possible for them to go entirely unnoticed until discovered by your physician typically as part of an x-ray study or an unrelated neck exam. Thyroid nodules can be a precursor to or a presentation of throat cancer, and therefore are a serious concern. Thyroid nodules can begin to present symptoms when they become particularly large or if they are found in a particular part of the thyroid gland. Contact your pain management doctor in Las Vegas, NV at the Khavkin Clinic to schedule a consultation and exam.
Who Gets Thyroid Nodules?
Thyroid nodules can occur in anyone, regardless of age or gender, though they are much more common in women. The following information is available regarding the occurrence of thyroid nodules:
- Women 30 years or more have thyroid nodules in 30% of cases
- Young men develop thyroid nodules in one out of 40 cases
- 95% of all nodules are not cancerous and are generally benign
- The majority of women will develop a thyroid nodule by the time they reach age 50
- Nodules become more common as we age, especially in women.
In most cases where thyroid nodules are present they are harmless, and only need to be removed or treated if they begin producing symptoms.
What Kind Of Symptoms Can Thyroid Nodules and Neck Masses Cause?
The most common symptom of thyroid nodules is simply their ability to be felt, and in some cases seen if they are particularly large. In symptomatic thyroid nodules, shortness of breath or trouble swallowing may happen with light pressure on the esophagus or windpipe. Depending on the location of the nodule production of excess thyroxine can occur, the hormone secreted by the thyroid gland. In these cases the following symptoms may be observed:
- Weight loss not explained by other causes
- Excessive sweating
- Arrhythmia (irregular or rapid heartbeats)
In very rare cases the thyroid may be cancerous, though a biopsy will be necessary to determine if this is the case. These cancers grow slowly as a rule, though aggressive ones can be identified by their size, firmness, and rapid growth.
What Can Cause Thyroid Nodules and Neck Masses to Form?
While thyroid nodules are incredibly common and develop in most women over time, there are conditions that can lead to additional nodule growth, including:
- Deficient Iodine Levels
- Too Much Thyroid Tissue Growth
- Cysts in the Thyroid
- Thyroiditis, a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the thyroid
- Multinodular Goiter, enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by multiple nodules
- Thyroid Cancer
When Do I Know It’s Time To See My Doctor?
Generally speaking, thyroid nodules are not a cause for concern. However, should you experience swelling in your neck, difficulty breathing and swallowing, or are noticing other symptoms related to thyroid nodules it’s time to consult your doctor. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms associated with unusual thyroid nodules or neck masses, contact Dr. Yevgeniy Khackin for a consultation and exam.