Nodule: Definition, Symptoms, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prediction

It is abnormal tissue growth. They can develop right under the skin.

They can also develop into deeper skin tissues or internal organs. The thyroid gland and lymph nodes can also develop nodules.

People can confuse other conditions with nodules, such as small cysts, boils, and abscesses.

Common areas to form nodules include:

  • Armpits
  • Ingle.
  • Region of the head and neck (including the vocal cords and the thyroid gland).


Depending on where the nodule is, additional symptoms may occur. Common symptoms of nodules include:

  • Pain in the area of ​​the nodule.
  • A complex and visible lump on the skin.
  • Abdominal discomfort (if the nodule is in the abdomen).
  • Changes in your voice (if the nodule is in the vocal cord).

Some nodules can occur without the appearance of other symptoms.

Types of nodules

Lymph node nodes

The lymph nodes are a common location for nodule formation. The lymph nodes are small oval organs that are found throughout the body. These play an essential role in the immune system of your body.


Swollen lymph nodes are often found in the armpits, groin, or head and neck region.

There are several groups of lymph nodes, which are small nodules of soft tissue in the form of beans.

The most frequently enlarged or swollen ones are in the neck (a chain of lymphatic ganglia is in the front part of the neck, the sides of the neck, and the back of the neck behind the ears), under the chin, in the armpits, and the groin.

There is also a large group of lymph nodes in the thorax and abdomen, sometimes enlarged on x-rays or CT scans.

The lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes and ducts spread throughout the body.

They bring the lymph (the tissue fluid that surrounds the cells, which contains white blood cells [ lymphocytes ], fluid from the intestines [chyle], and some red blood cells) back into circulation through the veins.

The lymph contains a concentration of infectious substances and other foreign substances (antigens).

The lymph nodes are small groups of cells surrounded by a capsule. The ducts enter and leave them.

The cells in the lymph nodes are lymphocytes, which produce antibodies (protein particles that bind to foreign substances, including infectious particles), and macrophages that digest the debris. They act as the “cleanest” cells in the body.

The lymph nodes are an essential site where foreign substances and infectious agents interact with the cells of the immune system.

An influential group of lymph nodes in the spleen, which, in addition to other functions, also helps fight infections and responds to foreign substances in the body.

Several mechanisms can cause the lymph nodes to enlarge (swell).

  • Infection (lymphadenitis): this can increase the number of white blood cells, which multiply in response to stimulation with a foreign substance (antigen). Swollen lymph nodes under the arm may occur due to an infection or injury to the arm or hand.
  • Virus: immune reaction to a generalized disorder in the body, such as viral infections that can occur with the common cold, as well as more severe conditions such as HIV.
  • Inflammation: infiltration with inflammatory cells during an infection or inflammation in a region of a determining lymph node. Some immune disorders, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can also cause widespread inflammation of the lymph nodes.
  • Cancer: In rare cases, breast cancer or lymphoma can cause swollen lymph nodes in the armpit. Rarely, a person may have a node or group of nodes that proliferate and become difficult to treat and can not move quickly under the skin. These may indicate a tumor.
  • Blood cancer: uncontrolled, malignant multiplication of lymphocytes as in lymphoma or leukemia.

Vocal cord nodules

Vocal cord nodules and polyps are masses of tissue that grow in the vocal cord.

The nodules usually appear on both vocal cords on the same level, opposite each other. Polyps tend to be found only on a vocal line.

Both interfere with the vibration of the vocal cords, affecting speech. The nodules of the vocal line are benign.

The excessive or incorrect use of the voice often causes them. The because box can also be irritated by stomach acid.

The vocal cords, also known as vocal folds, sit on the upper part of the trachea. They are two folds of tissue spread over the larynx. They vibrate, adjusting the airflow of the lungs to produce speech sounds.

Vocal cord nodules are the most common cause of children’s chronic (long-term) hoarseness. In general, they are caused by using the voice forcefully, for example, shouting or shouting, speaking loudly or with a tense voice, coughing repeatedly, or clearing the throat.

Abusing the voice or using it badly causes the vocal cords to close with great force. Where they are usually found is where the nodules begin to form.

At an early stage, the tissue may look red on examination, but it quickly becomes swelling or thickening at the edge of the vocal cords.

Over time, the swelling becomes a lump or nodule, which can become more complex and more fibrous without treatment.

Less commonly, vocal cord nodules can also be caused by paralysis of the vocal cords, where the vocal cord nerves lose their function, sinus problems, or long-term allergies.

Breathing smoke can also produce nodules on the vocal cords, as well as specific conditions such as hypothyroidism or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

However, vocal cord polyps tend to form due to the localized accumulation of fluid in a part of the vocal cord that has been traumatized, for example, by singing or shouting aloud.

A blister of blood forms and is then established to form a pocket of tissue fluid.

Any change in the voice that does not improve could be a sign of problems in the vocal cords.

Particular signs and symptoms include choking or hoarse crying, hoarse speech, or pain when speaking.

Speech can also become ‘wobbly’ with the voice breaking unexpectedly, reducing the range, and losing high or low notes.

Vocal cord nodules and polyps are diagnosed by micro laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy (MLB).

An MLB is a test that allows the doctor to observe the child’s airways (larynx and bronchi) using a small telescope and light. This is contained in a device called an endoscope.

A speech and language therapist and a specialist otolaryngologist will perform a complete voice examination along with an MLB.

For nodules in children, the primary forms of treatment are not surgical.

If necessary, surgery should be delayed until the child is old enough to benefit from voice training or how to take care of their voice.

Non-surgical forms of treating vocal cord polyps include:

  • Humidification (the use of steam to soothe the vocal cords).
  • Voice training.
  • The treatment of any underlying allergies or sinus problems to reduce swelling.

GERD will also need non-surgical treatment, usually with medications.

The nodules can be removed if non-surgical treatment does not improve things, often during an MLB procedure.

While the endoscope is in place in the child’s throat, an additional tool is inserted to cut the nodules.

Usually, one side is treated first and allowed to heal before removing the nodule on the other side.

This stops a laryngeal network, where the vocal cords join while they heal.

Polyps usually require surgical treatment, as indicated above, because they are less receptive to speech therapy and other non-surgical treatments.

Voice training is essential, whether the child needs surgery or not, to help him learn how to use his voice correctly and protect him from unnecessary stress.

Polyps may return, especially if the voice continues to be misused.

The best way to prevent this type of nodules includes:

  • Avoid talking too much, incredibly out loud.
  • Rest your voice between long speeches.
  • Speak correctly and slowly.
  • Whenever there is hoarseness, rest your voice as much as possible.
  • Prevent heartburn: Eat smaller meals, eat 3 hours before sleep, and avoid spicy and acidic foods.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid shouting, whispering, or cleaning the throat frequently.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol.

Pulmonary nodules

Pulmonary nodules are usually minor abnormalities seen on a chest x-ray or a computed tomography (CT) scan, often less than one centimeter in size.

It can be scar tissue, infection, inflammation, or a tumor/cancer.

About 60% of lung nodules are benign or noncancerous. Pulmonary nodules usually have a size of 0.5 to 3 cm but may be more extensive.

The inflammation in the lungs is one of the leading causes of the appearance of these nodules. The disease or infection can cause inflammation.

Noncancerous nodules usually do not require treatment. Nodules more prominent than 3 cm in size are more likely to be cancerous.

Your doctor will plan with you to check these nodules and determine when a biopsy will be needed.

Noncancerous lung nodules

Noncancerous lung nodules are usually caused by inflammation or infection. Infections can be bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. Acute or chronic disease is often treated with medications.

Another common cause is sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that may or may not require treatment.

They usually start in the lymph nodes or lungs, although they can occur anywhere in the body.

A third common cause is a rheumatoid arthritis which may require further evaluation.

Rheumatoid nodules can be as small as a pea or grow as large as a walnut and usually do not cause symptoms. They are not a risk of lung cancer, but sometimes they can break.

Cancerous lung nodules

Malignant lung nodules include lung cancers, lymphomas and cancers that have spread or from any part of the body.

If the lung nodule is more prominent, a biopsy will reveal if it is cancerous or benign.

A malignant pulmonary nodule can be caused by a genetic predisposition, exposure to tobacco, or exposure to toxic materials.

A cancerous lung nodule often has to be removed with surgery, and if no other cancer is found, it may not require another treatment.

When detected early, malignant lung nodules are often treated successfully.

Thyroid nodules

Thyroid nodules have a variety of causes. The following are common types of thyroid nodules:

  • Colloid nodules: develop from the lack of iodine, an essential mineral for producing thyroid hormones. These growths are not cancerous, but they can be considerable.
  • Thyroid cysts: are full of fluid or a mixture of liquid and solid tissue.
  • Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules: produce thyroid hormone, which can cause hyperthyroidism.
  • The multinodular goiter occurs when the thyroid gland forms multiple nodules, which grow over time. It can occur due to the lack of iodine in your diet, but most people with goiter have a thyroid gland that usually works.
  • Thyroid cancer: is another cause of thyroid nodules, but most thyroid nodules are not cancerous. According to the Cleveland Clinic, less than 5 percent of thyroid nodules are cancerous.

This type of nodules can be prevented if:

  • Iodine deficiency is avoided since it is a risk factor for thyroid nodules.
  • Irradiation treatments are increasingly adapted to administer only the minimum dose required in each case and limit the impact on the thyroid.


The most common causes of nodules are:


Certain types of nodules develop in the scar tissue.

For example, when there is excessive growth of scar tissue due to an injury, keloid nodules are formed.

According to studies, 10 percent of people have keloids.


The nodules can also develop in the internal tissues.

For example, a granuloma is a small group of cells that forms when the tissue becomes inflamed.

Inflammation often occurs due to an infection or an autoimmune reaction when the body overreacts to its tissues.

Granulomas can grow in many parts of the body but are commonly formed in the lungs.


The thyroid gland is located just above your clavicle, at the base of your neck.

The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism and growth.

Sometimes, nodules produce excess thyroid hormone, leading to hyperthyroidism.

Iodine deficiency

For the production of thyroid hormones, iodine is a necessary mineral.

When your body does not get enough iodine, thyroid nodules can develop.

This can also lead to a decrease in the functioning of the thyroid gland.

When to see your doctor?

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty to swallow.
  • Difficult breathing
  • Intolerance to heat.
  • Eyesight problems.
  • A pulsating heart
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Difficulty in sleeping.
  • Nervousness.
  • Neck Pain.
  • Irritability.

Even if you do not think your nodule is harmful, it is best to contact your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.


Before your treatment, your doctor will perform several tests to determine what caused your nodule to appear.

These tests may include taking a blood sample or a nodule biopsy.

For nodules that form internally, your doctor may perform an ultrasound or an imaging test.


If the nodule is not cancerous, your doctor may choose to monitor the nodule without providing treatment.

The nodules change frequently and can disappear on their own.

If the overproduction of a hormone, such as a thyroid hormone, is causing the formation of a nodule, your doctor may prescribe medications to suppress the hormone and cause the nodule to shrink.

In some cases, surgery is necessary to remove the nodules.

If a nodule is cancerous, your doctor may suggest surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or all three treatment options to treat the nodule.


The prognosis for a person with nodules depends on their cause. Many nodules will disappear with treatment.

In cancer cases, early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. If you find a nodule, consult your doctor immediately.

Please keep a record of any other symptoms you have experienced, changes in nodule size, or any pain associated with the nodule. You must share this information with your doctor.