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Thyroid Nodules/Lumps and Goiter (Enlargement)

Thyroid nodules, thyroid lumps, and the thyroid enlargement known as a goiter

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Updated August 11, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If your doctor has diagnosed you as having a thyroid nodule, a thyroid lump or an enlargement of the thyroid known as goiter, you'll want to know more about the diagnosis and treatment process, the relationship between nodules to thyroid cancer, and followup. Alternatively, you may experience a swelling of the thyroid gland, also known as a goiter.

Thyroid nodules are very common. A nodule is a swelling or lump, which can be a solid or liquid filled cyst or mass. Most are benign, but a small percentage can be cancerous. So you should always have a nodule evaluated by your physician as soon as you notice it. An estimated one in 12 to 15 women and one in 50 men has a thyroid nodule More than 90 percent of all thyroid nodules are not cancerous.

Some symptoms of thyroid nodules include palpitations, insomnia, weight loss, anxiety, and tremors, common in hyperthyroidism. Common hypothyroidism symptoms might include weight gain, fatigue, depression. Some people will cycle back and forth between hyperthyroid and hypothyroid symptoms. Others may have difficulty swallowing, a feeling of fullness, pain or pressure in the neck, a hoarse voice, or neck tenderness. And finally, many people have nodules wiht no obvious symptoms related to thyroid dysfunction at all.

A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid, and is sometimes used as a term to refer to an enlarged thyroid. The thyroid becomes large enough so that it can be seen as enlarged on ultrasounds or x- rays, and may be enlarged enough to enlarge the neck area visibly.

Some symptoms of a goiter include tenderness to the touch, pressing on your windpipe or your esophagus, coughing, hoarseness, shortness of breath, fullness in your neck, choking or shortness of breath at night, or a feeling that food is getting stuck in your throat.

Online, you'll find a detailed informational guide about nodules and goiters, how they are diagnosed, and what the available treatments are.

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