What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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While it is important to recognize the symptoms of thyroid cancer, it is also important not to panic too quickly before seeing a doctor, because as people age it is very common to develop nodules on the thyroid. These can easily be mistaken for cancer by those who do not know any better, but most of the time, they are completely benign and not harmful. Though frequently thyroid cancer will not show any symptoms, the most common ones are changes in the throat and neck. A lump might be felt in the area of the thyroid, and swollen lymph nodes are common; other symptoms of thyroid cancer can include pain in the throat and neck, or changes to the sound of the voice.

The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, near the bottom toward the Adam's apple. Though a lump in this area is one of the symptoms of thyroid cancer, as mentioned above, it could also just be a harmless nodule. Regardless, it is absolutely a good idea to go to the doctor and get it checked out if a lump appears on the thyroid, because if it is cancer, it is possible for it to grow and spread rapidly, potentially throughout the body.


Other changes to the neck and throat may be better indicators of thyroid cancer. The neck itself may appear slightly swollen, or the swelling might be limited to the lymph nodes; some people find that the neck looks misshapen because just one side of the thyroid is swollen. This can cause pain in the neck and throat area; sometimes it will even extend up to the ears. In addition to these symptoms of thyroid cancer, others might become more prevalent if the tumor continues to grow.

If a tumor is growing, the symptoms of thyroid cancer can involve a feeling that it is difficult to swallow or even to take a breath. Some people will notice changes in their voice, such as a hoarse sound. This might also be accompanied by a dry cough that does not appear to have any other cause. Again, keep in mind that larger thyroid nodules can cause some of these symptoms as well, so while it is important not to discount any of these symptoms, it is important to stay calm, and not panic until a doctor can run some tests and determine what is happening.


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