What is it?

A thyroid nodule is a lump in the thyroid gland.

Who are the persons at risk to develop it?

Anybody can develop thyroid nodules, but they are more common in women than men, and increase in frequency with age. They also commonly hereditary.

What are its types?

  • Colloid and Hyperplastic nodules: these are benign/non-cancerous lumps which can be found singly or in a multinodular goiter
  • Thyroid adenoma: this is also a benign lump that can be distinguished from cancer through biopsy
  • Thyroid cyst: this is also a benign lump that contains fluid
  • Thyroid cancer: thyroid cancer is rare and has a high cure rate
  • Toxic adenoma: thyroid nodules that cause hyperthyroidism

What are its symptoms?

A swelling or lump in the neck may be noted if the nodule is large enough. Majority of nodules have no associated symptoms and are an incidental finding.

How is it treated?

  • Colloid and Hyperplastic nodules: these can be usually observed and monitored without the need for surgery
  • Thyroid adenoma: since this is also benign, it may just be observed, or removed through surgery if increasing in size and causing obstructive symptoms
  • Thyroid cyst: may just be observed or monitored; if it is large, aspiration of cyst fluid or even surgical removal may be necessary
  • Thyroid cancer: treatment is surgical removal of most or all of the thyroid gland, followed by radioactive iodine ablation in some cases. You will need to take lifelong thyroid hormone (Levothyroxine) thereafter, which is adjusted and monitored by your doctor regularly, to replace the body’s thyroid hormone and to prevent cancer recurrence
  • Toxic adenoma: treatment options should be discussed by your physician, which include radioactive iodine therapy, surgery, or in some cases, anti-thyroid medications

What are its complications?

Enlargement of the nodules may cause goiter and may constrict the airways, causing difficulty in breathing. If the nodule is cancer and is not removed, it may spread/metastasize to other areas of the body.

When do you need to see an endocrinologist?

If you (or anyone around you) notice any palpable mass in your neck, it is best to consult an Endocrinologist for appropriate tests, accurate diagnosis, and timely management. Nodules may potentially be cancer, so a prompt evaluation is necessary. Other conditions that should prompt you to see an Endocrinologist:

  1. Presence of thyroid nodule/s with signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  2. Thyroid nodules that are increasing in size and/or number


  • American Thyroid Association
  • British Thyroid Foundation