Growths on the thyroid gland are called thyroid nodules; they are usually benign and found in about 50 percent of people over the age of 50. Although they can be cancerous, most are not harmful. Treatment may involve a needle biopsy or surgical removal if deemed harmful.
When the thyroid gland grows larger than normal, it’s known as a thyroid goiter. Often painless and considered not harmful, a large goiter may cause a cough or make it difficult to breathe and swallow. Treatment varies depending on the size of the goiter and the underlying cause. Medication, radioactive iodine and surgery are all options to treat goiters.
Most thyroid nodules don’t cause symptoms. Some may, when they become large enough, be felt, seen or put pressure on your esophagus making it difficult to breathe.