Contemporary thyroid nodule evaluation and management.

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Approximately 60% of adults harbor one or more thyroid nodules. The possibility of cancer is the overriding concern, but only about 5% prove to be malignant. The widespread use of diagnostic imaging and improved access to healthcare favor the discovery of small, subclinical nodules and small papillary cancers. Overdiagnosis and overtreatment is associated with potentially excessive costs and non-negligible morbidity for patients.We conducted a PubMed search for the recent English-language articles dealing with thyroid nodule management.The initial assessment includes an evaluation of clinical risk factors and sonographic examination of the neck. Sonographic risk-stratification systems (e.g., Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data Systems [TIRADS]) can be used to estimate the risk of malignancy and the need for biopsy based on nodule features and size. When cytology findings are indeterminate, molecular analysis of the aspirate may obviate the need for diagnostic surgery. Many nodules will not require biopsy. These nodules and those that are cytologically benign can be managed with long-term follow-up alone. If malignancy is suspected, options include surgery (increasingly less extensive), active surveillance or, in selected cases, minimally-invasive techniques.Thyroid nodule evaluation is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. For most nodules, the likelihood of malignancy can be confidently estimated without resorting to cytology or molecular testing, and low-frequency surveillance is sufficient for most patients. When there are multiple options for diagnosis and/or treatment, they should be discussed with patients as frankly as possible to identify an approach that best meets their needs.


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