Thyroglossal duct cysts or TDCs are a rare type of cyst found in the throat. TDCs are congenital, meaning they are present at birth. They are also typically benign. Thyroglossal duct cysts are often found and treated in patients ten years of age or younger. Though rare, TDCs may also be discovered during adulthood. TDCs can be treated through surgery. The good news is that once removed, the cysts won’t come back. 

If you fear that you or your child has TDC, this post is for you as your trusted NJ doctors share more information about Thyroglossal Duct Cysts:

What Are Thyroglossal Duct Cysts?

There are people who are born with small lumps in the middle of their throats. Also known as Thyroglossal Duct Cysts, these soft lumps can be felt and seen, though they are often about two centimeters in diameter. 

Thyroglossal Duct Cysts are more common in children than adults, with most cases seen in children ten years old or younger. That said, only 1% of all TDCs in children become cancerous. TDC cancer happens more often in adults. 

How Serious Are Thyroglossal Duct Cysts?

Most TDCs are benign and would therefore not cause any serious medical problems. There are rare exceptions, though, when:

  • The cysts become infected and start hurting
  • The cysts cause dysphagia
  • The cysts develop into cancer

Can TDCs Go Away on Their Own?

Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of TDCs is to undergo surgery. 

TDC Symptoms to Watch Out For

If you or your child has a TDC, the first thing you’ll notice is the cyst itself, as you’ll see a lump moving up when you or your kid swallows. It may also be visible when the child is sticking out their tongue. It’s also possible to detect cysts during a physical exam performed by a doctor. 

Other symptoms to watch out for include: 

  • A small cyst that feels soft, smooth, and round – similar to a tiny cookie dough ball
  • Swelling and pain that may happen when there’s an upper respiratory tract infection
  • TDCs can rupture and ooze fluid through the skin
  • Difficulty swallowing solid food or even liquid

Symptoms of TDC Cancer

In over a hundred years, less than 300 cases of TFC cancer have been reported, so it is pretty rare. When it occurs, it usually affects adults. Some people have had TDC cancer for many years and do not have many symptoms. In a few cases, doctors discover cancer during treatments for other medical conditions like goiters. For those who have experienced symptoms, these are the most commonly reported ones: 

  • A noticeable lump in the front of the throat that may get larger
  • A lump in the front of the throat that feels hard
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Extreme difficulty in swallowing

What Are the Causes of TDCs?

As mentioned above, TDCs are congenital, meaning that they start developing during gestation just as the body begins building the thyroid gland. To build this gland, thyroid cells travel from the tongue’s base to the hyoid bone, which is a U-shaped bone supporting the tongue. Thyroid cells make the journey through the thyroglossal tract. Ideally, the tract closes off and dissolves once the thyroid glands are in place. In some instances, though, the tracts do not close up, fill up with fluid and mucus, and develop into TDCs. It’s still unknown why most people’s tracts close off and dissolve, and some don’t. 


Thyroglossal Duct Cysts are almost always benign, so you shouldn’t worry too much about them. That said, if you notice the symptoms mentioned above, it’s still best to get the cyst checked. Your family doctor will be able to recommend the best course of action for your specific case. 

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