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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Comment from: nodulenightmare, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 13

I went to the doctor because I thought I had an allergy to drinking tea. Every time I drank a cup of tea the left side of my throat felt like something was stuck in it, I have just found out I have thyroid autoimmune problems and a small nodule on the same side that gets irritated when I drink tea. I need to see a specialist but I wonder if there is a link between the tea and the thyroid issues.

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Comment from: Irish, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 11

In April 2013 due to other autoimmune issues I was sent to a thyroid specialist and diagnosed with Hashimoto"s. During the exam he did an ultrasound and discovered 3 nodules. The next day he did biopsy on all three and results were benign - exam again in 6 months. In October 2013 exam revealed a 4th nodule but all were still small so just it was recheck again in 6 months. In March 2014, nodule #3 had tripled in size to over 3cm in the 6 months. Biopsy reveals "lesion of significant abnormality". Second biopsy with same results and also sent to DNA lab which tests came negative for the 2 genes which would indicate likely cancer. Now they say just keep an eye on it and recheck in 6 months again. If it"s growing that rapidly and shows a significant abnormality even though it"s not malignant, I wonder if it wouldn"t be better to have that half at least removed. I don"t know what to do.

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