(Natural News) If you ever find a lump in the thyroid area, don’t start panicking just yet. Those lumps are most likely thyroid nodules. A lot of people develop nodules in their life and never notice them. Most of them are harmless, but some can become cancerous. To properly identify it, consult your trusted healthcare practitioner.
Learn more about thyroid nodules, their causes, potential risks and treatment below.
A short guide to thyroid nodules
Despite being small, the thyroid plays a crucial role in the body. It is responsible for producing hormones that regulate metabolism. This small gland is shaped like a butterfly and is found at the front of the neck.
A nodule can form on the thyroid, producing a noticeable lump. You may notice it yourself or your physician may point it out to you. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than half of the population develop a nodule in their lifetimes. Most people just notice them when they are older.
To clarify, it is not goiter (an enlarged thyroid), but it is possible to have nodules and goiter at the same time.
What causes them?
There are many possible reasons for a thyroid nodule, including:
- Iodine deficiency – Iodine is essential to produce thyroid hormones. Lack of iodine can cause nodules to develop, but this is rare among developed countries like the US.
- Overgrown thyroid tissue – This is also called a thyroid adenoma. Its cause is unknown, but it is generally benign. It only becomes cumbersome if it becomes too big.
- Thyroid cyst – Thyroid adenomas may accumulate fluid over time becoming cysts. Fluid-filled cysts are also benign, but malignant solid components may mix in.
- Hashimoto’s disease or thyroiditis – This causes inflammation in thyroid tissues causing a nodule to swell. It is also linked to hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid.
- Goiter – This often results from a thyroid disorder or lack of iodine. Multiple nodules can form when a person has multinodal goiter.
When does it become cancer?
Once you or your physician identified the nodule, he will perform an ultrasound to investigate it.
During the ultrasound, the sound waves show an image of the thyroid and reflect the nodule’s echogenicity. This refers to how bright the nodule looks compared to the rest of the thyroid tissue. If the thyroid nodule looks light, it is called a “hyperechoic nodule.” This means that the nodule is filled with fluid and is most likely benign. However, if the thyroid nodule appears dark, it may be a problem.
A dark nodule is called a “hypoechoic nodule.” It means that the thyroid is comparably solid. Hypoechoic nodules have a higher risk of being cancerous, so your physician may perform a fine-needle biopsy to check.
Another indicator is size. If the nodule is significantly big, your physician may suspect that the cells may be cancerous.
How do you treat them?
If a hypoechoic nodule is detected, you may undergo a series of tests that can help confirm if the nodule is cancerous or not.
- Blood tests – This can check if the thyroid is still functioning normally or if something is amiss.
- Nuclear thyroid scan – Healthcare professionals rarely recommend it, but it can further evaluate the nodules.
- Fine-needle biopsy – This is a quick procedure where a physician inserts a needle into the nodule and collects a tiny tissue sample. He can then check if there are any cancerous cells.
- Surgery – If the nodule is cancerous, the physician may recommend surgery.
How do you prevent them?
While nodules develop due to various causes, there are natural ways to prevent them:
- Make sure you’re getting enough iodine. Eat enough foods rich in iodine, such as fish, fruits and vegetables. (Related: Woman shrinks thyroid nodules with pure nutrition, not meds.)
- Take supplements. One study found that a supplement containing spirulina, curcumin and Boswellia might help reduce the size of thyroid nodules. Further studies are needed to corroborate their findings.
If you find a lump in your throat, make sure to have it checked first. Learn more about benign and malignant lumps and how to treat them at CancerTumors.news.