When lumps are formed on the thyroid gland, they are generally called thyroid nodules. In most cases, they are harmless, and there is no need to worry about them.
However, in a small number of cases, they can turn cancerous. The thyroid nodule can become very big sometimes and lead to swelling in the neck that becomes visible to the naked eye.
In this situation, your doctor will analyze the problem and conduct an ultrasound examination or other imaging test to determine the problem.
Hypoechoic Thyroid Nodule – What Does It Mean?
The hypoechoic nodule is the one that appears as a dark mass on the ultrasound scan. This gives some indication about the nodule that it is full of solid mass and may not have liquid.
Even though they are usually harmless, some of them can become cancerous, and it can even spread to surrounding tissues leading to health complications.
How common is a thyroid nodule?
You will be surprised to know that thyroid nodules are very common, and it can be present in almost every second individual.
In this regard, if your doctor finds a thyroid nodule during a routine examination, you need not worry as this is very common.
Only in a small number of cases, it can become cancerous and start spreading to other parts of the body. You should go for a regular checkup if you find a thyroid nodule and ensure that it is a normal problem.
Your doctor may provide some medication depending on your overall health condition and the severity of the problem.
If the nodule is not large enough and if it is not causing any pain, you need not worry too much about it and just go with the suggestions of your doctor.
Common causes of thyroid nodule
You may get thyroid nodules for various reasons. If you notice any lump or swelling in the neck region, make sure to get in touch with your doctor so that you can go for a detailed examination to determine the severity of the problem.
Even doctors are not exactly sure about what causes this condition, but a host of factors can lead to this condition.
- It can be caused due to an enlarged thyroid gland that is often called a goiter. Even though this is a different condition, it often appears like a thyroid nodule, and it can sometimes turn into a thyroid nodule.
- A cyst that begins to grow in the thyroid gland due to some reason can become large enough in the long run and become a thyroid nodule. You may get this problem at any age, and it can affect even senior citizens.
- In some cases, the thyroid tissues overgrow in the area, and this can form a lump inside the glands leading to thyroid nodules. If the lumps are not painful, they cause no harm in most cases, and you can easily manage the condition.
- It is also observed that iodine deficiency can also lead to thyroid nodules in many cases. However, such deficiencies are very uncommon in developed countries as various foods are fortified with iodine. In most cases, the governments make it mandatory for certain products to contain iodine so that every person can get sufficient amounts of iodine and stay healthy.
- As iodine deficiency can cause a lot of health problems in children, many governments make it mandatory to use iodine in salts and other commonly used products.
- In rare cases, an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can also lead to an underactive thyroid and lead to this condition.
Diagnosis of thyroid nodules
When an ultrasound scan reveals a thyroid nodule, your doctor may suggest going for additional tests in order to understand the severity of the condition.
- Blood test
A simple blood test can determine the overall functioning of the thyroid gland, and it can measure the hormones in the blood.
In this way, doctors can easily understand if the person is suffering from an overactive or underactive thyroid condition.
This will be useful as they can help the patient by choosing certain hormone replacement therapy that can provide some relief from different symptoms of the condition.
- Nuclear thyroid scan
This is an imaging test, and it uses advanced techniques to evaluate the thyroid function in the body.
During this test, a radioactive iodine solution is injected into the area around the thyroid, and the patient is made to lie down so that the liquid can stay in the thyroid region for sometime.
After this, specially designed cameras take pictures of the thyroid region. The images will highlight the area that is filled with radioactive iodine, and your doctors can easily get to see the functioning of your thyroid glands in a better way.
- Fine needle biopsy
During this process, a very small needle is inserted into the thyroid region and a sample of the tissue is collected in this manner.
After this, the collected sample is sent for further tests. During this process, your doctor can examine the contents of the tissue and determine if they contain cancerous cells.
They can also determine through further tests if the cancer cells are malignant or not. This test can be done in the clinic, and it is a small test that can be done in quick time.
Surgery to treat cancerous thyroid nodules
In the event of the thyroid nodules turning out to be cancerous, they have to be removed in order to avoid further damage.
For this reason, a surgical procedure called thyroidectomy is performed, and this removes the affected part of the thyroid gland.
In rare cases, the entire thyroid gland may be removed if the cancer cells have spread throughout the gland.
Even though this provides sufficient relief from thyroid cancer in most cases, the patients have to rely on hormone replacement therapy for the rest of their lives.
The thyroid glands, once completely removed, cannot be replaced by the body in any manner. Due to this, your body will suffer from hormonal imbalance unless you take hormone replacement pills on a regular basis.
In extremely rare cases, when the cancerous cells have spread to other regions, further treatment may be required to treat the condition.