Health Check: Thyroid Nodule

Everyone has a Thyroid. It's hormones help determine how fast we burn calories and how fast our heart beats. But more than half of us could be walking around right now with a Thyroid Nodule. Serese Cole explains what a nodule is and what we need to know about them - in this month's Health Check report.

A lingering cough brought Bonnie Arett in to see the doctor. A CT Scan revealed her lungs were healthy.

"But they had found this solid mass on my thyroid," said Arett.

That mass turned out to be a Thyroid Nodule - a fluid-filled growth on the Thyroid. It turns out - they're pretty common.

Dr. Monty Sellon, "If you would just take a sample of the population, perform ultrasounds on their necks and look at their thyroids, anywhere from 20 to 70 percent of people have Thyroid Nodules."

Serese Cole, "Dr. Sellon says if you have a Thyroid Nodule - chances are you won't even know you have it. That's because most nodules are even smaller than this one."

Those tiny nodules can pose the biggest problems. With no signs or symptoms - they can go undetected for years.

"Most of them aren't cancerous, but some of them are - and obviously if treated early, they're curable. If not - there's a potential risk of death from Thyroid cancer so it's important to find those and treat them early, " said Dr. Sellon.

If a nodule grows large enough, it can press on your windpipe - making it hard to breathe and difficult to swallow. It can also affect your thyroid activity - resulting in weight, heart rate, muscle - even mood changes.

Treatment depends on the type of nodule.
Bonnie needed surgery. Six weeks later...

"I feel great - everything is good, said Arett.

She's recovering nicely and thankful her Thyroid Nodule was found - with no signs of cancer.

Only five to 15 percent of Thyroid Nodules are cancerous. But because there's no screening to detect them, Dr. Sellon recommends routinely checking your neck to see if you feel anything abnormal and making sure your doctor does the same during your physicals. Doctors don't know what causes Thyroid Nodules. They do know people who are most at risk for getting them tend to have have a history of radiation, smoking and alcohol consumption.

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