Thyroid Nodules in Children

  • Siobhan PittockEmail author
Part of the Contemporary Endocrinology book series (COE)


Thyroid nodules are less common in children than in adults, but when present they are more likely to be malignant; by far the most common thyroid malignancy in childhood is papillary thyroid carcinoma, and it is increasing in frequency. When a thyroid nodule is discovered by palpation or incidentally on imaging, the focus should be on determining the risk of malignancy.

A personal history of radiation exposure or iodine deficiency and thyroid disease or a family history of thyroid cancer all increase the likelihood of malignancy in a child with a thyroid nodule. Physical examination and ultrasound are the initial steps used for the evaluation of a thyroid nodule, and if suspicious features are noted, fine needle aspiration biopsy should be performed. The malignancy risk of indeterminate cytology results is much higher in children than in adults, and molecular genetic testing on cytology samples in children has not been found helpful in ruling out malignancy; therefore, thyroid surgery is recommended for all nodules with suspicious imaging and indeterminate or malignant cytology.

Despite the increased risk of malignancy in pediatric thyroid nodules, the outcomes from treatment of pediatric thyroid cancer are excellent.


Nodule Thyroid Child Cancer Radiation 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent MedicineMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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