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Things you need to know about thyroid nodules

Updated: 2022-04-19


The thyroid gland is an organ that secretes thyroid hormones. It is located in the middle of the neck and it looks like a butterfly. It is a very important organ that acts as an engine for bodily functions.

What are thyroid nodules?

Thyroid nodules are abnormal tissue masses within the thyroid gland.

Incidence of thyroid nodules

Thyroid nodules are relatively common, with an incidence of more than 20 percent, meaning that at least one in five people have them.

Causes and risk factors of thyroid nodules

The etiology of thyroid nodules is not yet clear, while related risk factors have been identified, including age, gender, and history of cervical radiation exposure in childhood.

Among patients with thyroid nodules, the incidence of malignancy in men is twice as high as in women, and the incidence of malignancy in adults over 60 years and under 30 years is higher than in patients aged 30-60. Other factors that increase the risk of thyroid nodules include: smoking, drinking, and obesity.

Symptoms of thyroid nodules

Most patients with thyroid nodules have no autonomic symptoms, and thyroid nodules are usually found by imaging examinations during a physical examination or by a specialist's palpation of the thyroid gland.

A few large nodules or nodular goiter can show neck swelling or neck mass. Large nodules may also produce a series of compression symptoms, for example, compression of the trachea behind the thyroid may cause breathing difficulties, and compression of the esophagus may cause difficulty swallowing. A very small number of nodules will produce too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism symptoms such as sweating, heat intolerance, and palpitation.

How can one identify the nature of nodules and thyroid function status?

Depending on the specific situation, thyroid function tests, thyroid color Doppler ultrasounds, superficial thyroid contrast ultrasonographies, nodule fine needle aspiration biopsies or direct surgeries must be performed to further clarify the nature of the nodules.

Prognosis for thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is divided into four categories, namely papillary, follicular, medullary, and undifferentiated carcinoma. Differentiated thyroid cancers (papillary and follicular) account for over 90 percent of all thyroid cancers and generally have a good prognosis.

Following treatment, the five-year survival rate of patients with papillary carcinoma is more than 98 percent. Undifferentiated carcinoma and medullary carcinoma have a relatively high mortality rate, but are less common. Therefore, the overall prognosis for thyroid cancer is relatively good.

The Breast and Thyroid Surgery Department of the Chongqing Health Center for Women and Children (CQHCWC)

Address: Area B, 4th Floor, Outpatient Department, Ranjiaba Branch of the CQHCWC

Service hours: 8 am-noon, 2-5:30 pm on weekdays; 8 am-noon on weekends

Tel: 023-60354549