A thyroid nodule corresponds to an increase in the volume of the thyroid gland. It may be a cyst, an adenoma, a tumor or sometimes thyroiditis
, a localized inflammation of the thyroid. The nodules may be single or multiple in number and may invade the gland: a multinodular goiter
. Women are generally more affected than men and these nodules usually appear in adulthood after the age of forty depending on the cause.
It is often the appearance of a small palatable lump in the neck that pushes the patient to seek help, especially if he experiences difficulty swallowing or breathing. Other symptoms can be found and depend on the cause of the nodule and its effect on thyroid hormones, and can create symptoms related to hyperthyroidism or conversely, hypothyroidism
- acceleration of the overall metabolism of the body or on the contrary, a decrease of the latter;
- rapid or decreased heartbeat;
- weight loss or weight gain
- diarrhea or constipation;
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation ...
The clinical examination involves the palpation of the thyroid gland in search of nodules, or a visible increase in the size of the thyroid, in which case we speak of a goiter. Thereafter, various tests are performed:
- measuring of TSH in a blood sample to identify a hyper or hypothyroidism;
- a thyroid ultrasound which allows for the localization of nodules the study of their appearance and size;
- a puncture of the nodule is often performed to determine whether or not the nature and origin are cancerous. If it is identified as benign or if there is a doubt, a second puncture is analyzed.
When the two punctures showed a reassuring character, simple monitoring is recommended. Surgery is reserved for all thyroid nodule suspected as being cancerous or large in size. Only the nodule can be removed, by a nodulectomy, but sometimes it is necessary to perform a total thyroidectomy. The patient is then forced to take a treatment for life to compensate for the deficit of thyroid hormones.