A thyroid mass, also termed a thyroid nodule, is a fluid-filled lump that forms in the thyroid, according to Mayo Clinic. The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck above the breastbone.
The majority of thyroid masses are not medically severe and do not cause symptoms, as stated by Mayo Clinic. However, some thyroid masses can indicate thyroid cancer. Doctors can typically detect a thyroid mass during a routine medical exam. A thyroid mass should be evaluated if it is visible or large enough to inhibit swallowing and breathing.
Causes of thyroid masses include an overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue, a thyroid cyst, chronic inflammation of the thyroid or a multinodular goiter, explains Mayo Clinic. An iodine deficiency and the presence of cancer in the thyroid can also cause a thyroid mass to form.
Treatment options for a thyroid mass depend upon the cause of the mass, according to Mayo Clinic. Masses that are not cancerous and do not produce any symptoms typically only require watchful waiting and routine tests as directed by a physician. Thyroid masses that are cancerous or excessively large may require surgery to remove the mass, thyroid hormone suppression therapy or radioactive iodine treatments.