Last edited 12/2019

  • a goitre is a non-specific term that is used to describe any enlargement of the thyroid.
  • it is seen as a midline neck swelling which moves up on swallowing.
  • goitres are more common in women than men.
  • presence of a goitre does not indicate that the thyroid gland is malfunctioning (1)
    • it may be associated with different thyroid functional states,namely:
      • hyperthyroid - a gland that is producing too much hormone
      • hypothyroid - producing less hormone
      • euthyroid - producing normal amounts of hormone
    • a goitre indicates that there is a lesion which is causing the abnormal growth of the thyroid. (1)

  • thyroid disease includes thyroid enlargement and thyroid hormone dysfunction (2):
    • thyroid enlargement may be benign, resulting in nodules or goitre, or malignant in people with thyroid cancer
    • conditions causing thyroid dysfunction can be broadly divided into those that result in thyroid gland underactivity (hypothyroidism) or overactivity (thyrotoxicosis)
    • thyroid enlargement is common
      • about 15% of the UK population have clinically detectable goitres or thyroid nodules, and the lifetime risk of developing a thyroid nodule is around 5 to 10%
      • in many cases, thyroid glands harbouring malignancy are clinically indistinguishable from those that are not. Most people with a non-malignant enlarged thyroid gland and normal thyroid function need no treatment.