ZocdocAnswersWhat are thyroid nodules?

Question

What are thyroid nodules?

I am an older woman and I have this small lump in the upper portion of my chest that (now that I've been doing a lot of reading online) I'm becoming convinced is truly a thyroid nodule. What is a nodule on the thyroid? What kind of symptoms should I expect it to cause?

Answer

The types of doctors that treat patients with thyroid issues include primary care physicians such as family doctors or physicians that specialize the thyroid function, and endocrinologist. The thyroid gland is located just outside the trachea below the thyroid cartilage (Adam's apple). Thus it is located on the neck about 1/3 of the way up. If you are feeling a lump in the upper portion of your chest, it is not likely a thyroid nodule. If what you are feeling is a thyroid nodule, most likely you will not have symptoms. Thyroid nodules are typically either non-functioning (no symptoms) or functioning (symptoms of too much thyroid). The ones that are non-functioning need further workup to see if they are a suspicious tumor. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can examine your thyroid and determine if it has any nodules. If your exam is positive, then an ultrasound can further characterize these nodules. In addition, a thyroid scan can be ordered to determine if the nodules are functioning (creating thyroid hormone), or non functioning (not creating thyroid hormone). Finally, you doctor will order a blood test looking for TSH which will tell if your whole thyroid gland is functioning properly. Good luck.

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