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 help you get the most from your appointment, try these suggestions:
Feb. 22, 2011
- 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. Your doctor will also want to know 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.
- Thyroid nodules. American Thyroid Association. www.thyroid.org/patients/brochures/Nodules_brochure.pdf. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Ross DS. Diagnostic approach to and treatment of thyroid nodules. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Ross DS. Overview of thyroid nodule formation. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Approach to the patient with a thyroid nodule. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec12/ch152/ch152b.html?qt=thyroid%20nodules&alt=sh. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Cooper DS, et al. Revised American Thyroid Association management guidelines for patients with thyroid nodules and differentiated thyroid cancer. Thyroid. 2009;19:1167.
- Lee GA, et al. Disorders of the thyroid gland. In: Lalwani AK. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2829111. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Clark OH. Evaluation of thyroid nodules & goiter. In: Doherty GM. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5213707. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Ross DS. Cystic thyroid nodules. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 29, 2010.
- Goiter. American Thyroid Association. http://www.thyroid.org/patients/brochures/Goiter_brochure.pdf. Accessed Nov. 29, 2010.
- Thyroid cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003144-pdf.pdf. Accessed Nov. 29, 2010.
- Nippoldt TB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 3, 2010.