Which patient groups have the highest prevalence of solitary thyroid nodules?

Updated: Aug 19, 2020
  • Author: Daniel J Kelley, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Thyroid nodules are more common in women than in men. Prevalence increases with age, with spontaneous nodules occurring at a rate of 0.08% per year beginning early in life and extending into the eighth decade. Thyroid nodules are found in 5% of persons aged an average of 60 years.

Exposure of the head and neck to ionizing radiation increases the incidence of thyroid nodules. Radiation treatments were not uncommon in the first half of the twentieth century for benign conditions such as acne, adenotonsillar hypertrophy, and enlarged thymus glands. The prevalence rate of thyroid nodules in radiation-exposed patients increases significantly, ie, 16-31% relative to the general population. A direct dose-response relationship between thyroid nodularity and radiation to the head and neck region also exists.

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