A thyroid nodule is a lump discernible from the remaining thyroid gland. Ten to twenty percent of the population has at least one thyroid nodule; the overwhelming majority of people are asymptomatic.
Palpable nodules occur in approximately 4% of the population. While most of these nodules are benign, approximately 5-10% will harbor thyroid carcinoma.
Certain factors such as patient age, nodule size, and prior exposure to radiation can increase the chance that a given nodule harbors malignancy.
Any suspicious nodules should undergo fine needle aspiration. This procedure, often performed in the office, extracts cells from the nodule which are sent to pathology for analysis.
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