What is a thyroid nodule?
A thyroid nodule is a growth within the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are extremely common, and can be seen in 5 to 10% of women and 1 to 5% of men. Studies have shown that the chance of having a thyroid nodule increases with increasing age and that up to 60% of women over the age of 60 years may have a thyroid nodule. A patient may find a nodule on their own by feeling their neck (palpation), a physician may note it on physical exam, or it can be incidentally found by an imaging study (ultrasound, CAT scan, etc). If blood tests show abnormal thyroid function, an ultrasound of the neck is usually performed, and thyroid nodules can be found in this way. Generally, only nodules 1 cm or greater are evaluated by FNAFNA - fine needle aspiration biopsy biopsy, since they have a greater potential to be cancer. Occasionally, there may be nodules less than a centimeter in size that require evaluation, because of certain risk factors.