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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

Risk factors for thyroid nodules include:

  • Family history of the condition
  • Age
  • 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

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