What percentage of cystic nodules on a thyroid gland turn to cancer?


Quick Answer

Less than 5 percent of cystic nodules on the thyroid gland are cancerous, according to Cedars-Sinai. Tests to rule out cancer are important whenever nodules are discovered.

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Full Answer

Around 6 percent of women and 1 to 2 percent of men have thyroid nodules. There are several types of noncancerous, benign thyroid nodules, including nontoxic goiters, benign follicular adenomas and fluid-filled thyroid cysts, according to Cedars-Sinai.

Nontoxic goiters are benign nodules that occur when the thyroid gland grows too large due to overactivity of the pituitary gland. The gland produces an excess of thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH. The typical treatment for multinodular goiters is suppression using thyroid hormone medication. However, surgery may be required if the medication does not stop its growth or if the goiter causes problems by pressing against the esophagus or trachea, according to Cedars-Sinai.

Benign follicular adenomas are nodules that appear as small circles when viewed microscopically. When present, these nodules are biopsied to ensure that they have not invaded blood vessels or thyroid tissues, states Cedars-Sinai.

Fluid-filled thyroid cysts are nodules that appear suddenly and can be of any size. If the cyst consists of both solid and fluid components, it is classified as a complex thyroid nodules. These nodules are sometimes removed via surgery if they cause difficulty swallowing or neck pain, notes Cedars-Sinai.

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