The natural history of benign thyroid nodules

Cosimo Durante, Giuseppe Costante, Giuseppe Lucisano, Rocco Bruno, Domenico Meringolo, Alessandra Paciaroni, Efisio Puxeddu, Massimo Torlontano, Salvatore Tumino, Marco Attard, Livia Lamartina, Antonio Nicolucci, Sebastiano Filetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IMPORTANCE Detection of asymptomatic thyroid nodules has increased. Consensus is lacking regarding the optimal follow-up of cytologically proven benign lesions and sonographically nonsuspicious nodules. Current guidelines recommend serial ultrasound examinations and reassessment of cytology if significant growth is observed. OBJECTIVE To determine the frequency, magnitude, and factors associated with changes in thyroid nodule size. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Prospective, multicenter, observational study involving 992 consecutive patients with 1 to 4 asymptomatic, sonographically or cytologically benign thyroid nodules. Patients were recruited from 8 hospital-based thyroid-disease referral centers in Italy between 2006 and 2008. Data collected during the first 5 years of follow-up, through January 2013, were analyzed. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Baseline nodule growth (primary end point)was assessed with yearly thyroid ultrasound examinations. Size changes were considered significant for growth if an increase of 20%or more was recorded in at least 2 nodule diameters, with a minimum increase of 2 mm. Baseline factors associated with growth were identified. Secondary end points were the sonographic detection of new nodules and the diagnosis of thyroid cancer during follow-up. RESULTS Nodule growth occurred in 153 patients (15.4%[95%CI, 14.3%-16.5%]). One hundred seventy-four of the 1567 original nodules (11.1%[95%CI, 10.3%-11.9%]) increased in size, with a mean 5-year largest diameter increase of 4.9mm(95%CI, 4.2-5.5 mm), from 13.2 mm(95%CI, 12.1-14.2 mm) to 18.1mm(95%CI, 16.7-19.4 mm). Nodule growth was associated with presence of multiple nodules (OR, 2.2 [95%CI 1.4-3.4] for 2 nodules; OR, 3.2 [95%CI, 1.8-5.6 for 3 nodules; and OR, 8.9 [95%CI, 4.4-18.0] for 4 nodules), main nodule volumes larger than 0.2mL (OR, 2.9 [95%CI, 1.7-4.9] for volumes >0.2 to

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)926-935
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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