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Definition

What is benign neoplasm of thyroid gland?

Benign neoplasms of thyroid gland are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid, a small gland located at the base of your neck, just above your breastbone.

Most thyroid lumps are benign but 5% are malignant and it is important to distinguish this sinister minority. Benign neoplasms of thyroid gland may include thyroid adenoma, thyroiditis, thyroid cysts and hyperplastic nodules

How common is benign neoplasm of thyroid gland?

About 40% of the general adult population have a single neoplasm or multiple ones. They are more common in women.  8-65% of patients with clinically normal thyroid glands had one or more grossly visible nodules, whereas the incidence of malignancy was 2-4%. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of benign neoplasm of thyroid gland?

Most benign neoplasms of thyroid gland don’t cause signs or symptoms. Occasionally, however, some nodules become so large that they can:

  • Be felt
  • Be seen, often as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Press on your windpipe or esophagus, causing shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing

In some cases, benign neoplasms produce additional thyroxine, a hormone secreted by your thyroid gland. The extra thyroxine can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased perspiration
  • Tremor
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

A few thyroid neoplasms are cancerous (malignant), but determining which neoplasms are malignant can’t be done by symptoms alone. Most cancerous thyroid neoplasms are slow growing and may be small when they’re discovered. Aggressive thyroid cancers are rare, but these neoplasms may be large, firm, fixed and rapid growing.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Sudden weight loss even though your appetite is normal or has increased
  • A pounding heart
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nervousness or irritability

Although most thyroid neoplasms are noncancerous (benign) and don’t cause problems, ask your doctor to evaluate any unusual swelling in your neck, especially if you have trouble breathing or swallowing. It’s important to evaluate the possibility of cancer.

Causes

What causes benign neoplasm of thyroid gland?

  • Iodine deficiency. Lack of iodine in your diet can sometimes cause your thyroid gland to develop thyroid nodules. But iodine deficiency is uncommon in the United States, where iodine is routinely added to table salt and other foods.
  • Overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue. Why this occurs isn’t clear, but such a growth — which is sometimes referred to as a thyroid adenoma — is noncancerous and isn’t considered serious unless it causes bothersome symptoms from its size. Some thyroid adenomas (autonomous or hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules) produce thyroid hormones outside of your pituitary gland’s normal regulatory influence, leading to an overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism).
  • Thyroid cyst. Fluid-filled cavities (cysts) in the thyroid most commonly result from degenerating thyroid adenomas. Often, solid components are mixed with fluid in thyroid cysts. Cysts are usually benign, but they occasionally contain malignant solid components.
  • Chronic inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis). Hashimoto’s disease, a thyroid disorder, can cause thyroid inflammation resulting in nodular enlargement. This often is associated with reduced thyroid gland activity (hypothyroidism).
  • Multinodular goiter. “Goiter” is a term used to describe any enlargement of the thyroid gland, which can be caused by iodine deficiency or a thyroid disorder. A multinodular goiter contains multiple distinct nodules within the goiter, but its cause is less clear.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for benign neoplasm of thyroid gland?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is benign neoplasm of thyroid gland diagnosed?

In assessing benign neoplasm of thyroid gland, one of your doctor’s main goals is to rule out the possibility of cancer. But your doctor will also want to know if your thyroid is functioning properly. Tests include:

  • Physical exam. You’ll likely be asked to swallow while your doctor examines your thyroid because a nodule in your thyroid gland will usually move up and down during swallowing. Your doctor will also look for signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as tremor, overly active reflexes, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat; and signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as a slow heartbeat, dry skin and facial swelling.
  • Thyroid function tests. Tests that measure blood levels of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, hormones produced by your thyroid gland, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is released by your pituitary gland, can indicate whether your thyroid is producing too much thyroxine (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism).
  • This imaging technique uses high-frequency sound waves rather than radiation to produce images. It provides the best information about the shape and structure of nodules. It may be used to distinguish cysts from solid nodules or to determine if multiple nodules are present. It may also be used as a guide in performing a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy. Nodules are often biopsied to make sure no cancer is present. FNA biopsy helps to distinguish between benign and malignant thyroid nodules. During the procedure, your doctor inserts a very thin needle in the nodule and removes a sample of cells. The procedure, which is carried out in your doctor’s office, takes about 20 minutes and has few risks. Often, your doctor will use ultrasound to help guide the placement of the needle. The samples are then sent to a laboratory and analyzed under a microscope.
  • Thyroid scan. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a thyroid scan to help evaluate thyroid nodules. During this test, an isotope of radioactive iodine is injected into a vein in your arm. You then lie on a table while a special camera produces an image of your thyroid on a computer screen.
    • Nodules that produce excess thyroid hormone — called hot nodules — show up on the scan because they take up more of the isotope than normal thyroid tissue does.
    • Cold nodules are nonfunctioning and appear as defects or holes in the scan. Hot nodules are almost always noncancerous, but a few cold nodules are cancerous. The disadvantage of a thyroid scan is that it can’t distinguish between benign and malignant cold nodules.
    • The length of a thyroid scan varies, depending on how long it takes the isotope to reach your thyroid gland. You may have some neck discomfort because your neck is stretched back during the scan, and you’ll be exposed to a small amount of radiation.

How is benign neoplasm of thyroid gland treated?

  • Watchful waiting. If a biopsy shows that you have a benign thyroid nodule, your doctor may suggest simply watching your condition. This usually means having a physical exam and thyroid function tests at regular intervals. You’re also likely to have another biopsy if the nodule grows larger. If a benign thyroid nodule remains unchanged, you may never need treatment.
  • Thyroid hormone suppression therapy. This involves treating a benign nodule with levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, others), a synthetic form of thyroxine that you take in pill form. The idea is that supplying additional thyroid hormone will signal the pituitary to produce less TSH, the hormone that stimulates the growth of thyroid tissue. Although this sounds good in theory, levothyroxine therapy is a matter of some debate. There’s no clear evidence that the treatment consistently shrinks nodules or even that shrinking small, benign nodules is necessary.
  • Occasionally, a nodule that’s clearly benign may require surgery, especially if it’s so large that it makes it hard to breathe or swallow. Surgery is also considered for people with large multinodular goiters, particularly when the goiters constrict airways, the esophagus or blood vessels. Nodules diagnosed as indeterminate or suspicious by a biopsy also need surgical removal, so they can be examined for signs of cancer.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage benign neoplasm of thyroid gland?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: November 7, 2017 | Last Modified: November 7, 2017

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