ZocdocAnswersIs the lump in my neck the beginning of a goiter?

Question

Is the lump in my neck the beginning of a goiter?

What is a goiter? I have a small lump in my neck that I think might be one. It is small but could it turn into a goiter? It is soft and does not hurt and is on the side by my shoulder.

Answer

A goiter refers to the growth or swelling of the thyroid gland, which sits below the Adam's Apple at the base of the neck, just in front of the trachea. There are many causes of goiter, the most common being iodine deficiency, which accounts for over 90% of goiters worldwide. In countries like the U.S., however, salt is iodized and consequently, iodine deficiency is rare and a much more infrequent cause of goiter. Syndromes such as Grave's Disease and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (both autoimmune conditions that affect the thyroid gland) account for more cases of goiter in the U.S. as a result. In some cases, the thyroid may be underactive and in others it may be overactive. Conversely, sometimes the thyroid enlarges for no apparent reason and the level of thyroid hormone may be completely appropriate. Not all neck masses can be attributed to the thyroid however. Other structures such as lymph nodes may become enlarged, or growths such as a lipomas (benign fatty tissue tumors) or cysts may form and can be mistaken as thyroid. It is advised that you seek out the guidance of your primary care physician for further work-up. He/she can conduct a thorough history and physical exam, and use blood tests and/or imaging of the neck to determine the cause of the lump in your neck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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