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Thyroid Nodules (cont.)

Benign Thyroid Nodules

There are a variety of benign thyroid nodules such as goiters, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, thyroid cysts, and benign thyroid tumors (thyroid adenomas).

Multinodular Goiter

Multinodular goiter is an overall enlargement of the thyroid gland resulting from nodules, which either contain too many normal thyroid cells (referred to as hyperplasia) and/or have been filled with extra colloid. Colloid is the protein-containing substance that normally stores thyroid hormone inside the thyroid gland.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common form of underactive thyroid disease. This form of hypothyroidism can be associated with thyroid nodules and goiter.

Thyroid Cyst

Commonly caused by a nodule which is bleeding or degenerating (breaking down), these blood or colloid-filled nodules can be associated with thyroid pain.

Benign Thyroid Tumors (Thyroid Adenomas)

Thyroid adenomas are benign abnormal growths of tissue in the thyroid gland. They are generally classified as follicular or papillary.

  • Follicular adenomas are the most common type of tumors (adenomas). Cell types of follicular tumors include fetal, colloid, atypical, and Hurthle.
  • Papillary adenomas are the least common type of thyroid tumor or adenoma.

Malignant Thyroid Nodules

There are several types of thyroid cancer. At times, thyroid cancer is metastatic cancer (secondary cancer) that has come from other organs in the body that are primary cancers.

Thyroid Cancer (Thyroid Carcinomas)

  • Papillary thyroid carcinoma: In the United States, approximately 74% to 80% of thyroid cancers are papillary thyroid cancers, which are more common in women 15 to 84 years of age. Papillary thyroid carcinoma may be caused by exposure to ionizing radiation, history of exposure to X-rays of the head and neck, particularly during childhood, therapeutic radiation, oral contraceptives, late start of menstruation, late age at first birth, and tobacco smoking.
  • Follicular thyroid carcinoma: This is an adenoma more common in women age 15 to 84 years. Follicular thyroid carcinoma may be caused by ionizing radiation, exposure to head and neck X-rays particularly in childhood, therapeutic radiation, radiotherapy for certain cancers, iron deficiency, and research demonstrates from mutations of the ras oncogene.
  • Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma: This is the most aggressive type of thyroid cancer and is more common in females. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is thought to occur from previously undetected long-standing papillary or follicular cancer.
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma: This is a type of thyroid cancer that has a genetic association with multiple endocrine neoplasia (the formation of new tumors).
  • Thyroid lymphoma: This is a type of lymphoma that originates in the thyroid gland.
  • Metastatic cancers from other sources, including breast, kidney, and lung cancers
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2017

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