What Is a Thyroid Nodule? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options Explained

3d illustration of thyroid nodule

Thyroid nodules affect up to 50% of the population 1 and in some cases may require surgical removal. Let's take the mystery out of this common condition and explore the treatment options.

Do you have a lump in your throat?

A nodule is just that, a lump or growth on the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the throat and produces hormones that regulate metabolism. These lumps can occur in groups and may be solid or filled with fluid. 90% of thyroid nodules are non-cancerous, 2 and the remaining 10% are rarely life-threatening.

Nodules are more common in women than men. Your risk of developing nodules increases with age, exposure to radiation, and may have a genetic component.

The types of nodules include:

  • Adenomas. These are an overgrowth of normal thyroid tissues. They may be classified as warm (producing normal hormones), cold (producing no hormones), or hot (over-producing hormones).
  • Thyroid Cysts. When an adenoma begins to degenerate, it may turn into a fluid-filled cyst. These are typically benign but may contain solid tissues that should be checked for cancer risk.
  • Thyroiditis. This is a chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland which may be caused by bacteria or a condition known as Hashimoto's disease, which causes hypothyroidism.
  • Multinodular Goiter. A goiter is any enlargement of the thyroid, including those caused by multiple nodules. One cause is iodine deficiency, which is very rare in the US due to the availability of iodized salt.
  • Thyroid Cancer. Most nodules are not cancerous, but if they are hard, large, or cause pain they become one of the primary thyroid removal reasons. If there is concern that a nodule might be cancerous, a biopsy will be needed, and thyroid surgery may be the best option for treatment.

What are the symptoms of thyroid nodules?

Very small nodules may not be noticeable. Unless you notice the lump yourself, it will probably be found during a doctor's examination.

  • Hormone-related symptoms: rapid irregular heartbeat, unexplained weight changes, nervousness, fatigue, depression, and constipation.
  • Enlargement-related symptoms: visible enlargement, difficulty swallowing or breathing, hoarse voice, or pain at the base of the neck.

older male checking his throat for lumps

When is thyroid surgery the best treatment?

If you experience any of the above symptoms or if a biopsy indicates there is a risk of cancer, thyroid surgery may be the best option for a full recovery. 3 Your thyroid surgeon will fully explain the procedure which will involve removal of the nodules or, depending on your diagnosis, may include a partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland.

How long does it take to recover from thyroid surgery?

Utilizing minimally invasive surgery techniques at the Surgery Group of LA, thyroid surgery recovery is quick and easy. Your thyroid surgeon will use the best technology available to minimize pain and eliminate visible scarring. You may be able to go home the same day, and be back at work in a week, although you should avoid strenuous activity for two weeks.

We believe everyone is entitled to the best possible care and a comfortable patient experience before, during, and after necessary surgery. Reach out to us today at (424) 303-4949 to schedule an examination and learn more about your options, including the robotic Da Vinci technique!


1. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid-nodules/thyroid-nodules-prevalence-symptoms-causes-diagnosis-treatments

2. https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/thyroid/thyroid-nodules

3. https://www.healthline.com/symptom/thyroid-nodules

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