Find a Doctor
Child and Family Development Center
Endocrine Tumor and Bone Disease Program
Gastrointestinal Oncology Center
Heart and Vascular
Lung and Thoracic
Men's Health Center
Nutrition and Diabetes Education
Pelvic Floor Disorders
Urologic Oncology Program
Locations & Clinics
Providence Holy Cross Medical Center
Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro
Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance
Providence Saint John's Health Center
Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center
Providence Tarzana Medical Center
John Wayne Cancer Institute
Providence TrinityCare Hospice
Providence Saint John's Medical Office - Playa Vista
Saint John's Physician Partners
Providence Medical Institute
Primary & Urgent Care
Online Doctor Visits
View all locations
News & Events
News & Events
Events & Classes
For The Media
Saint John’s Magazine
Saint John's Health Center
General questions and answers about thyroid nodules
What are thyroid nodules?
A thyroid nodule is an abnormal growth of thyroid cells within the thyroid gland. Most of the time the cause is unknown.
How common are thyroid nodules?
Thyroid nodules are very common in the general population. 50 to 70 percent of adults have thyroid nodules and the incidence increases with age. Most thyroid nodules do not produce any symptoms and go undetected.
If I have a nodule, do I have to be concerned about cancer?
The majority (90 - 95 percent) of thyroid nodules are benign – meaning they do not contain any cancer cells.
How can my nodules(s) be evaluated?
The best test for evaluating the thyroid is a dedicated thyroid and neck ultrasound by an experienced radiologist, endocrine surgeon, and/or endocrinologist. Many times a fine needle aspiration biopsy of the nodule will be performed for further evaluation.
Do all thyroid nodules need to be surgically removed?
There are two main reasons why your endocrinologist or surgeon will recommend surgery for thyroid nodules.
Concern for cancer or an “indeterminate” biopsy (see Thyroid cancer section)
You are experiencing obstructive symptoms from a very large nodule(s) such as trouble breathing when you lie flat or trouble swallowing solid foods.
Is there another treatment besides surgery for thyroid nodules?
No. Studies have shown that medication does not shrink thyroid nodules.