Thyroid nodules are caused by overgrowth of thyroid cells and can be either benign (noncancerous cells) or malignant (cancer cells). Some nodules are actually cysts and are filled with fluid rather than cells. Thyroid nodules are very common and an important decision has to be made whether the nodule should be followed over time or if a biopsy of the nodule is indicated at the time it is found. The best way to evaluate a thyroid nodule or cyst is with a thyroid ultrasound. If the nodule or cyst has certain characteristics on ultrasound or if it has reached a certain threshold size, then a biopsy should likely be done. Dr. Glueck performs her own thyroid ultrasounds and biopsies regularly in the office. She sends the cells to a specialized laboratory for Afirma Thyroid FNA analysis. This specialized test allows genes to be tested that can further help clarify whether a nodule is benign or malignant and can often avoid the need to repeat a biopsy or unnecessary surgery.
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