What You Should Know About Thyroid Nodules
More people are just beginning to learn about the thyroid and how it functions in the body. In an obesity epidemic, experts are beginning to blame underactive thyroids for excessive weight gain that is not influenced by diet or exercise. The thyroid is a small gland that measures two-inches long and is located in the front of the neck, according to endocrine.niddk.nih.gov. It affects muscle strength, the metabolism, brain development, the heart, and the nervous system. The thyroid can also have nodules that grow directly on it, which is extremely common and affects half of all individuals over the age of 60.
Those who suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a form of hypothyroidism, are most likely to have thyroid nodules develop. 90 percent of thyroid nodules are benign, but can often grow with other nodules that are present. The nodules are generally characterized as tumorous collections of benign cells. During an exam, patients can expect doctors to measure the nodules to determine if it’s cancerous with blood tests that are accompanied by thyroid ultrasonography. Thyroid ultrasounds are also used to determine the size and exact location of each nodule and if it is cystic or solid.
The most common form of treatment for thyroid nodules that are detected is by having a thyroid surgeon removing the growth. If the nodule is too small to be operated on, it will simply be monitored with time to determine if it becomes larger. Although cancerous thyroid nodules are dangerous and must be removed immediately, they are rarely life-threatening. In some cases, the thyroid nodules develop when cancer has already begun to spread in other areas of the body, making it important to have them evaluated by a doctor. According to ScienceDaily.com, researchers at the University of Alberta recently discovered a new way to combat thyroid cancer by targeting an enzyme that causes cancerous nodules to develop.