Thyroid Nodules - Type

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What are the types of thyroid nodules?

Thyroid nodules may be single or multiple.

  • A thyroid gland that contains multiple nodules is referred to as a multinodular goiter.
  • If the nodule is filled with fluid or blood, it is called a thyroid cyst.
  • If the nodule produces thyroid hormone in an uncontrolled manner (without regarding the body's needs), the nodule is referred to as autonomous.
    • Such a nodule may cause signs and symptoms of too much thyroid hormone, or hyperthyroidism.
    • Less often, patients with a thyroid nodule may have too little thyroid hormone, or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is most common in the context of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a condition characterized by painless autoimmune destruction of the thyroid.
  • The most common types of single thyroid nodules are noncancerous colloid nodules or follicular adenomas.
  • Another type of benign nodule that may be seen is called a Hurthle cell adenoma. Few nodules are cancerous.
  • Cancerous nodules are classified by the types of malignant thyroid cells they contain. These cell types include papillary, follicular, medullary, or poorly differentiated (anaplastic) cells. The prognosis for the patient depends largely on the cell type and how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis.
  • In addition to thyroid cancer of the cell types mentioned previously, thyroid nodules may contain lymphoma (a cancer of the cells of the immune system). Cancer from other sites, such as breast and kidney, can also spread (metastasize) to the thyroid.

The cause of most thyroid nodules is unknown. In certain cases, insufficient iodine in the diet can cause the thyroid to develop nodules, but this is no longer common in the U.S. Certain genes may contribute to development of thyroid nodules.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: jadenhunter, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 27

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 24 after I had my third son. I took Synthroid for it and overall it worked well. About 2002 I started having issues with hypothyroid symptoms and my thyroid swelled up into a noticeable goiter. An ultrasound found 4 nodules and it had increased to 6 since then. My endocrinologist took a wait and see stance after a biopsy came back showing benign results. The nodules have been very slow growing and not a problem until recently. However, my endocrinologist has now moved to a new department and the new one has determined that the nodules are smaller than the previous provided results though, and that half of them are not nodules, but calcification. I wasn't able to make an appointment with him to go over the latest test results and his office has decided it can wait for six months. I am currently trying to contact my insurance provider for information on getting a second opinion.

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Comment from: justseeking, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 30

I recently received a copy of my FNA (fine needle aspiration) report. I have not yet had an appointment to review it with my doctor, but the results show benign follicular nodule, Bethesda category II; small follicular cells with uniform nuclei in a background of thin colloid. I was happy to read the word benign, however, I am confused about the next step. It seems as if many webpages show that I may still need to have a partial removal of my thyroid to obtain an accurate diagnosis. I will not see my doctor for almost 2 weeks and this is weighing heavily on my mind.

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