Anyone can develop a thyroid nodule, but your risk increases as you get older, and women are four times more likely than men to develop them. At RGV Endocrine Center in McAllen, Texas, Gloria Ortiz, MD, FACE, ECNU, and Amanda Cantu, MD, ABIM, offer specialized care for thyroid nodules, including diagnostic ultrasounds, genetic testing, and nodule biopsies in the comfort of their office. If you have questions about thyroid nodule symptoms or you need to schedule an appointment, call the office today.
Thyroid nodules form when a mass of tissue grows in your thyroid gland. These abnormal growths are usually benign (noncancerous). In rare cases, however, they can turn into thyroid cancer.
You may have one thyroid nodule or many. They may be solid, filled with blood or thyroid hormone, or a combination of both. Thyroid nodules may stay so small they’re not detectable, or they can grow to a large size.
Some thyroid nodules are called toxic nodules because they produce excessive amounts of hormones. Toxic nodules cause hyperthyroidism.
If you have a small nodule that’s not toxic, chances are you won’t have any symptoms. As nodules enlarge, they cause symptoms as they press against the nearby structures. If your nodule produces hormones, you develop symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
You may experience any of the following symptoms:
Depending on the size of the nodule, you may also have pain or swelling in the front of your neck.
During a physical exam, your RGV Endocrine Center provider can feel an enlarged nodule and determine qualities such as its firmness. Your provider also looks for signs of high or low thyroid hormones.
An accurate diagnosis, however, requires diagnostic testing such as ultrasound imaging, bloodwork, and a biopsy to detect thyroid cancer. The doctors at RGV Endocrine Center do their own thyroid ultrasounds and perform biopsies in the office.
RGV Endocrine Center is the only clinic in McAllen that does genetic testing to prevent unnecessary surgery that might be required to remove a thyroid nodule. With Afirma® genomic testing, they can learn about the unique qualities of the cells in your nodule and determine if you have a low or high risk of thyroid cancer.
With information from genomic testing, your provider can confidently rule out surgery and move forward with a plan to closely monitor your nodule. They can also tell you when immediate surgery is essential.
Your nodule may not need immediate treatment, depending on several factors, such as the nodule’s size, whether it’s producing hormones, the severity of your symptoms, and the results of your biopsy and/or genetic testing.
A cancerous nodule is immediately removed. A benign but symptomatic nodule may also require surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland. You may also need medications to treat high or low levels of thyroid hormones.
If you develop a lump in your neck or symptoms like difficulty swallowing, call RGV Endocrine Center today.