The Influence of Incidental Detection of Thyroid Nodule on Thyroid Cancer Risk and Prognosis

A Systematic Review

Je Ern Chooi; Abiramie Ravindiran; Saba P. Balasubramanian


Clin Endocrinol. 2022;96(2):246-254. 

In This Article


Data from this review show that incidentally detected thyroid nodules have a similar risk of malignancy as clinically apparent thyroid nodules and should therefore be evaluated in a similar manner to symptomatic nodules based on the nodule characteristics on ultrasound and existing risk factors. However, the review also found that thyroid cancer diagnosed after incidental presentation tended to have better progression-free survival and overall survival. Further large, well designed prospective cohort studies with long follow-up periods should be carried out to assess the impact of incidental detection on both risk and prognosis of thyroid cancer and confounding factors such as nodule size and stage of disease should be adjusted for.

At the current time, investigation and management of thyroid nodules should not be influenced by the mode of detection. However, incidental detection is likely to impact favourably on prognosis and this study may be used in balancing the risk and benefits of the different management strategies being considered in these patients.