What is a thyroid nodule?
A nodule (in the medical term – a nodule of the thyroid gland) is an area of altered thyroid tissue that is detected by palpation (by feeling), ultrasound or other methods of examining the thyroid gland.
Nodules are different in size (even the size of a hen’s egg), in consistency (either dense or soft). They can be painful and painless (the latter is more common). Also, nodes with signs of malignancy are distinguished. All this is determined by the endocrinologist when examining the patient, palpating the thyroid gland, looking at the ultrasound protocol of the thyroid gland , studying the analyzes of thyroid hormones and the results of other studies, if necessary.
What could be the reason for the formation of a nodule? This is dangerous?
Most often, benign nodes are found in people – these are colloidal nodes, cysts. The main reason is iodine deficiency and hereditary predisposition (overgrowth of individual tissue areas, thyroid cells). Selenium deficiency , which is needed for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, may also be a provoking factor . Cigarette smoke, insecticides, herbicides also adversely affect the thyroid gland (some of the components included in them can cause the formation of nodules). The reasons for the development of a tumor (cancer) of the thyroid gland are more complex. Among them, for example, may be a mutation of different genes , that is likely to disrupt the formation of thyroid cells. In any case, the detection of a nodule on the thyroid gland is a reason to consult an endocrinologist.
Can a thyroid nodule be found on self-examination?
Sometimes the person himself can actually detect (feel or see in the mirror) a nodular formation in himself, but more often in cases where it is large enough . Sometimes nodules can be detected by a doctor during examination, but still, in most cases, they are found during an ultrasound of the thyroid gland. Much depends on the size of these nodules, their location in the thyroid gland, and the patient’s physique. Typically, a doctor can palpate nodules larger than 1 cm on the surface of the thyroid gland. It is easier to feel the nodes in people of a leaner physique and children, then sometimes even smaller formations can be identified.
What is the threat of a nodule on the thyroid gland?
It all depends on what he is. If the nodule is benign, then the prognosis is good. If there are signs of malignancy, then more serious treatment may be needed, but in this case there is no need to panic ahead of time: there are various types of malignant thyroid tumors and most of them are now well treated. The main thing is not to delay and consult a doctor in time .
How are such formations treated?
Everything is individual. Treatment of thyroid nodules depends on the type of the node itself (benign or malignant), its size (small or very large, compressing the trachea, esophagus, when there are complaints of difficulty in swallowing, breathing, etc.).
Treatment can include both observation of benign nodules with control of ultrasound, hormones, puncture of the thyroid gland and other studies, as well as the appointment of various drugs, for example, thyroid hormones – everything is determined by a specialist.
For cancer of the thyroid gland, treatment is carried out by oncologists (this can be surgical or chemotherapy treatment, radiation therapy with radioactive isotope of iodine).
How often should you check for these nodules?
If you have any complaints (fatigue, drowsiness, weight loss, rapid or slow heartbeat, impaired hair growth, discomfort in the neck) and at the same time, close relatives have had thyroid cancer in your family, you have had episodes of radiation exposure in your life head or neck, if your age at the time of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was from 0 to 18 years old, then you should consult a doctor, while doing an ultrasound of the thyroid gland . And even if during the research you “have revealed something and in a terrible voice told you about it” – please do not panic, but wait for the consultation of an endocrinologist, who will prescribe further tests. With an independent examination of the thyroid gland, the minimum list of tests, in addition to ultrasound, includes hormonal research (TSH, free T4, AT-TPO) and a general blood test.
Are knots more likely to appear in women?
In principle, women suffer from endocrine diseases more often. Consequently, the nodes in them come to light more often. But here it is worth noting that women are more attentive to their health than men, therefore, they are more often examined and better fulfill the doctor’s recommendations.
Are there any ways to protect yourself from these formations?
The most important thing is a healthy lifestyle : proper and nutritious nutrition, sufficient physical activity. You need to exclude trigger (triggering) factors – bad habits. Do not consult with “all-knowing” neighbors and friends, do not engage in self-diagnostics and self-medication – but consult a doctor in time if you have complaints. It is also important not to take iodine preparations and other vitamins and minerals without a doctor’s prescription.