Thyroid cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in the thyroid gland. The cysts can be malignant or non-malignant in nature. The shape and size of the cysts may vary in every patient. Some thyroid cysts are entirely filled with fluid whereas others may contain solid mass present in the fluid. Here is some necessary information which will help you to detect thyroid cysts to prevent them from evolving as cancerous masses causing thyroid cancer.
Read: Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors
Causes of Thyroid Cysts
There are no specific and clear causes of thyroid cysts. However, the risk factors that make you vulnerable to thyroid cysts are:
- a family history of thyroid cysts or thyroid cancer
- lack of iodine in the diet
- being a woman
- your age
- exposure to radiation in the past
- family history of inflammation of the thyroid gland, a condition known as thyroiditis.
Symptoms of Thyroid Cysts
Thyroid cysts which are smaller in size (1mm to 3mm) are sometimes difficult to detect because they do not show symptoms and often get diagnosed during a physical examination.
The larger cysts may or may get exposed early but it might lead you to following conditions:
- pain in the neck due to stress on the windpipe
- if the cyst grows to become a lump, it will be visible at the base of your throat
- trouble in swallowing food or even liquid
- changes in the voice
- if the cyst develops excessively it may cause hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Diagnostic Tests for Thyroid Cysts
- If your doctor suspects cysts, he will do a thorough physical examination of your neck and throat. The doctor can also conduct a blood test to assess your thyroid levels that can fluctuate due to thyroid cysts.
- Your doctor will perform ultrasound to know the size, shape and consistency of the cyst and also to chart the right treatment plan.
Treatment of Thyroid Cysts
- Usually there is no treatment required for benign cysts. If the cysts have caused hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, your doctor may prescribe you medications to treat your condition as well as to reduce the size of the cysts.
- Alternative treatment for thyroid cysts is thyroid hormone suppression therapy which aids in shrinking the cysts as well as in determining if it is malignant or not.
- If the thyroid cysts mar the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, your doctor may keep you on radioactive iodine for a few months.
- The doctor will perform blood test after a specific interval to determine if the cysts have stopped affecting the functioning of your thyroid or not.
Although, the possibility of thyroid cysts developing into thyroid cancer is relatively low but their early detection will ensure better protection against the fatal cancer.
Read more articles on Thyroid Cancer.