If you have thyroid nodules, we recommend that you read more. In this article, we will tell you when you must worry about your thyroid nodule. We will also look at the characteristics of malignant nodules leading to thyroid cancer
What is a thyroid nodule?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-like tissue in front of your neck. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, and the main thyroid hormone plays a major role in regulating the body’s metabolism and growth.
Sometimes part of the thyroid tissue due to overgrowth becomes one or more spherical or elliptical bumps, which are called thyroid lumps or thyroid nodules.
In whom are thyroid nodules formed?
In the following two groups of people, we mostly see the formation of nodules or thyroid nodules:
- People with iodine deficiency
- People with a family history of thyroid nodules
It should be noted that thyroid cancer, like other thyroid problems, is more common in women than men, and also the age of onset of thyroid cancer in women is lower than men. Women in their fifth decade of their life should take neck swelling and thyroid nodule examination seriously.
What are the types of thyroid nodules?
There are different types of thyroid nodules. It is interesting to know that most thyroid nodules are noncancerous and benign, and the probability that a thyroid nodule is cancerous in a healthy person is only five percent.
Types of thyroid nodules include:
- colloid nodules:
This type of nodule is benign and does not become
cancerous, it can be one or more, and it often grows a lot.
- thyroid cysts:
There are bags that contain liquid or solid-liquid.
- inflammatory nodules:
The growth of these nodules is sometimes accompanied by pain and is caused by prolonged inflammation of the thyroid
- hyperfunctioning nodules:
Sometimes nodules form from the growth of thyroid tissue that produce thyroid hormones spontaneously and uncontrollably, leading to cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, hypertension, and osteoporosis. But they are not cancerous.
- Malignant thyroid nodules:
Less than five percent of all thyroid nodules lead to thyroid cancer. But some studies shows that even those benign thyroid nodules that grow rapidly can become cancerous.
(American Medical Association journal)
How are thyroid nodules detected?
Sometimes when a person stands in front of a mirror, he notices swelling and bulging in his neck, but this will not always be the case, and sometimes a thyroid nodule is completely asymptomatic and is accidentally discovered on ultrasound and a doctor’s examination.
Necessary examinations in people with thyroid nodules
- Obtain an accurate history of the patient
- Family history of thyroid cancer and nodules
- Evaluation of radiotherapy history
- Evaluation of symptoms due to possible enlargement of the thyroid nodule
- Examination and evaluation of the number and size of nodules
Ultrasound allows a more accurate examination of thyroid nodules, and the presence of certain characteristics in thyroid ultrasound can be a sign of malignant thyroid nodules.
- Measurement of blood TSH hormone:
If this hormone is elevated, the nodule is normally hot (It means, the nodule produces thyroid hormone.) A thyroid scan should be done to check for a hot nodule.
To accurately differentiate malignant nodules from benign ones, some thyroid nodule tissue must be removed with a special and fine needle. This is called fine needle (FNA) sampling, when thyroid ultrasound is performed by a specialist at the same time. It can also do FNA.
When is a thyroid nodule serious?
We said that about five percent of thyroid nodules are malignant, so if one or more of the following symptoms are present in a person with a thyroid nodule, it is best to follow up for a thorough examination:
- There is a bulge and lump in the neck
- A bulge in the neck that grows rapidly.
- Neck swelling
- Recent voice violence
- Swallowing problems (inability to swallow easily)
- Difficult breathing
- Pain in the front of the neck that can spread to the ears
- Prolonged cough for which no cause has been discovered.
Could size be a cause to concern about thyroid nodules?
If we consider the total number of thyroid nodules of any size, about five percent of the nodules in this group can be cancerous.
If we look at thyroid nodules that are one to one and nine tenths of a centimeter in size, eight percent of them are cancerous nodules.
Eight percent of thyroid nodules larger than one and a half centimeters in size are malignant.
What are the suspicious cases in thyroid nodule ultrasound?
Observing the following during an ultrasound by a specialist can be a cause for concern for thyroid nodules:
- Malignant thyroid nodules, their margins are sharp and not clear
- Peripheral halo: Echo reduction is seen around the nodule.
- When the contents of the thyroid nodule are solid.
- Existence of multiple and large thyroid nodules
- See irregular margins around nodules
- Existence of hard part (calcification) in thyroid nodule
- Nodules that are hypoaco (???) and heterogeneous (thicker than usual)
The final words
Finally, we must say that the majority of thyroid cancers appear with pain in the neck or thyroid lump without pain.
As thyroid cancer progresses, the sufferer gradually develops difficulty swallowing, breathing, and hoarseness. Thyroid cancers, if detected in their early stages, will have an excellent therapeutic response to current therapy.