Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid, a small gland located at the base of your neck, just above the breastbone. Most thyroid nodules aren't serious and don't cause symptoms, and only a small percentage are cancerous.
While most aren’t discoverable until a scan is performed for another health reason, some may become large enough to be visible or make it difficult to swallow or breathe.
Risk factors for thyroid nodules include:
- Family history of the condition
- Gender – women are more likely to develop thyroid nodules
- Radiation exposure – history or radiation exposure to the head and neck
Most thyroid nodules do not cause signs and symptoms. Occasionally, however, some nodules become so large that they can:
- Be felt
- Be seen, often as swelling at the base of the neck
- Press on the windpipe or esophagus, causing shortness of breath of difficulty swallowing