Goitre is a swelling in the neck or larynx that is the result of enlargement of the thyroid gland. It is associated with dysfunction of the thyroid gland. It can range from a small lump to a very large mass.

Over the world over 90% of the cases are associated with iodine deficiency. Those cases are generally in developing countries and occur as a result of a lack of iodine in the soil without proper iodine supplementation. This kind of endemic goitre is highly uncommon in Australia due to the implementation of iodized salt in the country.

There are three possibilities types of goitre:

  • Uninodular goitre: these can be either an inactive or toxic nodular
  • Multinodular goitre: They can also be inactive or toxic, and the latter is specifically called toxic multinodular goitre.
  • Diffuse: this is where the entire thyroid seems to be enlarged.


Goitre are defined in three sizes:

  • Class I: in normal posture of the head, it cannot be seen; it is only detectable by touch.
  • Class II: the swelling is visible
  • Class III: the swelling is very large and pressure results in marks of compression.

Thyroid cancer is common and the incidence is increasing rapidly, especially in women. Thyroid cancer presents as a thyroid nodule. It is usually associated with uninodular goitre. Malignancy was noted in 4.7% of cases of unilateral goitre and 2.7% in multilateral goitre according to a 1995 study by Ron et. Al.

Thyroid dysfunction, in the form of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is another possible cause of goitre. Hyperthyroidsm can be the result of Grave’s disease. This usually presents as diffuse goitre. However, this is quite rare with only 0.1%-0.2% of cases of goitre being attributable to the condition.

If you think you might have goitre, especially if it is uninodular, please organise an appointment with Professor Havas as soon as possible.