Your thyroid is likely an organ you don’t give much thought to, even though it plays an extremely large, behind-the-scenes role in your health. So, when you’re told that there are nodules on your thyroid, it’s perfectly reasonable that you might be concerned.
At Houston Sinus Surgery, under the expert guidance of Cecil Yeung, MD, our team understands the importance of thyroid health, which is why we want to take this time to discuss what thyroid nodules are and whether they’re a cause for concern.
Your thyroid is a hormone-producing gland located in the bottom, front area of your neck. Your thyroid produces thyroid hormones that regulate, among many functions, your:
When your thyroid secretes these tiny chemical messengers, they travel through your blood to reach almost every tissue in your body.
A thyroid nodule is a lump — either solid or filled with liquid — that forms on this small gland. Nodules are more common among children or young adults, and up to 50% of the population in the United States will have a nodule on their thyroid by the time they reach 60.
In a majority of cases — 90% — these nodules are benign and don’t produce any symptoms or affect your thyroid’s function in any way. In fact, we often discover the presence of nodules when we’re performing a routine examination.
In less common cases, you may feel or see a lump around the front of your throat if the nodule is on the larger size.
There are many causes of thyroid nodules, including:
Understandably, this last potential cause is one that may give you pause, but let’s take a look at some of the numbers surrounding thyroid cancer. First, it affects women far more than men — more than 40,000 women are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year in the United States, while only 12,700 men receive the same diagnosis. The survival rate of thyroid cancer is extremely high, largely because we’re able to step in and treat the cancer by removing some or all of your thyroid.
As we mentioned, most nodules don’t produce any symptoms, but if you’re experiencing any of the following, we will need to take a closer look:
These symptoms don’t necessarily point to cancer, but they do point toward a problematic nodule.
To investigate further, we typically perform the following:
Once we have a better idea about whether your thyroid nodule may be a cause for concern, we will discuss any next steps, which may involve surgical removal of the affected area.
If you’d like to learn more about thyroid nodules, book an appointment online or over the phone with Houston Sinus Surgery today.