EmpowHer Asks: Dr. Wood, what is goiter?
Dr. Lawrence Wood is the founder of the Thyroid Foundation of America, a nonprofit organization that provides education about thyroid disease. He is newly retired from practice as an Associate Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Goiter refers to enlargement of your thyroid gland. If the whole gland is enlarged it’s unlikely to be due to cancer, which usually starts as a lump within the gland. A general enlargement probably means that your thyroid is becoming overactive (hyperthyroidism) or slowing down (hypothyroidism).
Goiter usually begins as swelling in the lower front of your neck and is a sign that you should visit your doctor for a thyroid check-up to see if yours is malfunctioning.
Most goiter caused by a change in thyroid function will be smooth and non-tender except for situations in which the gland has become mildly inflamed (sub-acute thyroiditis).
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