Thyroid nodules in Graves disease and the risk of thyroid carcinoma

Luigi Cantalamessa, Marina Baldini, Alessandra Orsatti, Laura Meroni, Vincenzina Amodei, Daniela Castagnone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The risk of thyroid carcinoma in patients with Graves disease has been particularly emphasized when nodules coexist with thyroid hyperplasia; a surgical approach has been suggested. Objectives: To detect thyroid nodules early in patients with Graves disease and to evaluate the risk of carcinoma. Methods: The study group included 315 consecutive outpatients with Graves hyperthyroidism not previously treated with surgery or radioiodine therapy. Thyroid ultrasonography was performed at the time of enrollment and repeated annually in all patients; fine-needle aspiration (FNA) was carried out in those patients with nodules and repeated after 2 years or at shorter intervals. Results: One hundred six of 315 patients with Graves disease had thyroid nodules 8 mm in diameter or larger detected by ultrasonography. In 49 patients, nodules were present at the time of the first examination; in 57 patients, nodules developed during follow-up. Fine- needle aspiration cytology results revealed features of carcinoma in only 1 patient; this was confirmed by histologic examination of excised thyroid tissue. The nodules with normal cytologic features at the time of the first examination did not show any clinical and/or cytologic evolution toward malignancy during follow-up. Conclusions: Ultrasonographic evidence of nodules was frequently found among our patients with Graves disease, but malignant FNA cytologic findings of the examined nodules were rare at the time of diagnosis and throughout the course of the disease. When FNA cytologic evaluation does not indicate malignancy, the presence of thyroid nodules in patients with Graves disease does not indicate an aggressive therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1705-1708
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 9 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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