Risk factors for thyroid cancer include previous radiation exposure as well as family history of thyroid cancer. Males with thyroid nodules are also more likely to have thyroid cancer than females.
Benign thyroid lumps that are small and asymptomatic can be left alone. However, as they enlarge (beyond about 4cm), they may cause discomfort, swallowing problems, or breathing difficulties. Surgery can then be performed to remove the part of the thyroid gland that contains these lumps.