If you see or feel a thyroid nodule yourself — usually in the middle of your lower neck, just above your breastbone — call your primary care doctor for an appointment to evaluate the lump.
Often, thyroid nodules are discovered when you're already at your doctor's office during a routine medical exam. Sometimes a thyroid nodule is detected when you have an imaging test, such as an ultrasound, CT or MRI scan, to evaluate another condition in your head or neck. Nodules detected this way are usually smaller than those found during a physical exam.
Once a thyroid nodule has been detected, you're likely to be referred to an endocrinologist — a doctor who specializes in endocrine disorders. To get the most from your appointment, try these suggestions:
June 27, 2015
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make your appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance to prepare for diagnostic tests you might have.
- Write down all symptoms and changes you're experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to your current problem.
- Make a list of important medical information, including recent surgical procedures, the names of all medications you're taking and any other conditions for which you've been treated.
- Make note of your personal and family medical history, including any history of thyroid disorders or thyroid cancer. Tell your doctor of any exposure to radiation you may have had, whether as a child or an adult.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. For instance, you're likely to want to know whether nodules that don't cause problems need treatment, and what treatment options are available.
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- Approach to the patient with a thyroid nodule. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine_and_metabolic_disorders/thyroid_disorders/approach_to_the_patient_with_a_thyroid_nodule.html?qt=4.%09Approach to the patient with a thyroid nodule&alt=sh. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
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- Ross DS. Cystic thyroid nodules. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
- Goiter. American Thyroid Association. http://www.thyroid.org.php54-1.ord1-1.websitetestlink.com/what-is-a-goiter/. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
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- Nippoldt TB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 19, 2013.