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Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

A Look at the Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Carcinoma

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Updated: September 10, 2007

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

Neck enlargement, a lump, or neck pain are some symptoms of thyroid cancer.

Thyroid cancer, especially early in its development, may not cause any symptoms at all.

But as a thyroid cancer grows and develops, it is more likely to cause symptoms. Some of the symptoms that may point to thyroid cancer include the following:

  • A lump, or nodule in the neck -- especially in the front of the neck, in the area of the Adam's apple. (Note: Sometimes, the lump or nodule will be growing quickly.) (Find out how to do a Thyroid Neck Check to look for lumps or enlargement.)

  • Enlargement of the neck

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

  • Hoarseness, difficulty speaking normally, voice changes

  • Difficulty swallowing, or a choking feeling

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Pain in the neck or throat, including pain from the neck to the ears

  • Sensitivity in the neck -- discomfort with neckties, turtlenecks, scarves, necklaces

  • Persistent or chronic cough not due to allergies or illness

  • Asymmetry in the thyroid (big nodule on one side, nothing on the other)

  • Nodules that when manipulated give the impression that the entire thyroid is moving (this is often a sign of an aggressive cancer)

  • Nodules that cause the wind pipe to go to one side of the neck, as well as cause superior vena cava syndrome

  • Some particularly aggressive thyroid tumors can go to the brain and cause neurological symptoms

More Information

Find out more about the risk factors for thyroid cancer and the tests and procedures used to diagnose thyroid cancer.

Sources:

Braverman, MD, Lewis E., and Robert D. Utiger, MD. Werner and Ingbar's The Thyroid: A Fundamental and Clinical Text. 9th ed., Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW), 2005.

National Cancer Institute -- Thyroid Cancer Page

What You Need to Know About Thyroid Cancer, National Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society: Thyroid Cancer Guide

American Cancer Society: Thyroid Cancer Statistics

Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association (ThyCa)

Mary Shomon, About.com's Thyroid Guide since 1997, is a nationally-known patient advocate and best-selling author of 10 books on health, including "The Thyroid Hormone Breakthrough: Overcoming Sexual and Hormonal Problems at Every Age," "The Thyroid Diet: Manage Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss," "Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know," "Living Well With Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism," "Living Well With Autoimmune Disease," "Living Well With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia," and the "Thyroid Guide to Hair Loss." Click here for more information on Mary Shomon.

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