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Thyroid Diseases

Lump in Neck

08/16/2010

Question:

I have lump in my neck for more than a month now. I have done regular blood test and test for thyroid profile and both tests are normal. Do these tests confirm that thyroid function is normal? What could be the other causes of the lump in the neck?

Answer:

It's hard to be specific about what the lump might be without knowing exactly where it is. However, the most common cause of a lump in the neck would be a lump in the thyroid gland. Most lumps in the thyroid gland are benign, but about 5-10% of them are thyroid cancers, so this needs to get checked out.

Your doctor will probably recommend a fine needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid, probably guided by an ultrasound. This test is not a big deal - they numb up the area, and they use a needle smaller than the one they use to draw blood from you with. This test will tell if there is anything in the lump to worry about. Blood tests can't tell you if this is a cancer or not - only the fine needle aspiration will do that.

Incidentally, if it does come back as a thyroid cancer, you should know that thyroid cancer isn't like other cancers. It is very slow growing and usually responds very well to treatments that are not particularly bad. It does not, however, respond very well to being ignored.

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Response by:

Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University