What Causes Thyroid Nodules?

Thyroid nodules are fluid-filled or solid lumps that grow within the thyroid, a small gland that sits at the base of the neck. Usually, they are not a cause for concern. Several medical issues are associated with the development of thyroid nodules, including:

  • Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid)
  • Overgrowth of regular thyroid tissue
  • Iodine deficiency
  • A thyroid cyst
  • A multinodular goiter

Thyroid cancer is another possible cause of thyroid nodules. Malignant (cancerous) thyroid nodules are rare, but it is important to promptly speak with a physician if you have any symptoms of a thyroid nodule, particularly if you have a family history of thyroid cancer or another endocrine malignancy.

What are the symptoms of thyroid nodules?

Most thyroid nodules don’t cause any symptoms other than a lump. Some lumps can only be felt when pressure is applied to the base of the neck. Occasionally, though, a thyroid nodule may press against the esophagus or windpipe and cause difficulty swallowing. A nodule may also produce hormones that can cause excessive sweating, unexplained weight loss, anxiety or rapid heartbeat.

How are thyroid nodules treated?

Treatment for a thyroid nodule can vary according to its cause, symptoms and whether or not it is cancerous. There are several treatment approaches for noncancerous thyroid nodules, such as antithyroid medications, hormone suppression therapy and radioactive iodine therapy. Surgery may also be performed to remove symptomatic benign nodules as well as cancerous nodules.

Moffitt Cancer Center provides comprehensive diagnostics, treatment and supportive care to individuals with cancerous thyroid nodules. To speak with a Moffitt physician about our approach to thyroid cancer screening or treatment, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment. A referral is not required to visit Moffitt.