Thyroid nodule is a development of a solid or fluid-filled lump at the thyroid gland. Thyroid glands are small buttery fly shape glands, located at the neck and just above the breastbone. The thyroid gland is responsible for the production of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones, which regulate metabolism, body temperature, pulse, heart rate, digestion, and mood.
Most thyroid nodules are benign (noncancerous) and may go unnoticeable. However, some thyroid nodules may become large and visible, causing swallowing and breathing difficulties. Most patients are not aware that they have thyroid nodules until assessed by the specialist or discovered incidentally while conducting investigations for other diseases or illnesses.
Classification of Thyroid nodules:
- Single nodule or Solitary
- Fluid-like nodule or Cystic
Most thyroid nodules do not show any sign or symptoms, however, if there is nodule enlargement then it can cause:
- Swelling at the neck
- Swallowing and breathing problems
- Goiter (enlargement of thyroid gland)
- Changes in voice or hoarseness
Overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) could cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
- Increased appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased sweating
Low production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) could cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Tingling sensation at the hands
- Unexplained weight gain
- Dry skin and hair
Most thyroid cancers are slow-growing and could be small when the specialist discovers it. Nodules that may be large, firm, fixed, or rapidly expanding are signs of aggressive thyroid cancer, which is a rare.
If the patient is experiencing any unusual swelling at the neck that cause problem in swallowing or breathing, then it is recommended to visit a specialist to assess further for thyroid problems or cancer.
Also seek medical advice if the patient is experiencing any signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Thyroid gland may develop nodules as a result of a different kinds of disorders, including:
- Colloid nodules: One or more overgrowths of normal thyroid tissue. They are non-cancerous growths (benign). Despite their potential for growth, they do not spread outside the thyroid gland. This is the most typical form of thyroid nodules.
- Thyroid cyst: These are either fluid-filled or partially solid and partially fluid-filled growths. Cysts have low risk of developing into cancer, however, if it grows larger than 2cm, they are recommended to closely monitor or undergo a biopsy.
- Chronic inflammatory nodules: Thyroid inflammation and larger nodules may be brought on by Hashimoto’s disease.
- Multinodular goiter: A goiter with numerous distinct nodules is referred to as a multinodular goiter. Any swelling of the thyroid gland, which can be brought on by iodine shortage or a thyroid disorder, is referred to as a goiter.
- Thyroid cancer: Malignant nodules are not common. However, a nodule becomes more problematic if it is large, hard, unpleasant, or painful. Some factors, such as having a family history of thyroid or other endocrine malignancies and having a history of radiation exposure through medical therapy or nuclear fallout, raise your risk of developing thyroid cancer.
- Iodine deficiency: Thyroid nodules can occasionally form on your thyroid gland if you don’t consume enough iodine. Iodine is frequently added to table salt and other meals, therefore iodine shortage is unusual in modern society.