Thyroid cancer - Symptoms 

Symptoms of thyroid cancer 

In its early stages, thyroid cancer tends to cause no or very few symptoms.

The main symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump or swelling at the front of the neck just below your Adam's apple, which is usually painless.

Women also have Adam's apples, but they're much smaller and less prominent than a man's.

The lymph nodes in your neck can also be affected and become swollen. Lymph nodes are small glands that are part of the lymphatic system, which helps fight infection.

Other symptoms of thyroid cancer only tend to occur after the condition has reached an advanced stage, and may include:

  • unexplained hoarseness that doesn't get better after a few weeks
  • sore throat or difficulty swallowing that doesn't get better
  • pain in your neck

When to seek medical advice

You should always see your GP if you develop a swelling or lump at the front of your neck. Although it's unlikely to be thyroid cancer, it's important that it is investigated.

About 1 in 20 swellings or lumps in the neck are caused by thyroid cancer. Most cases are caused by non-cancerous swellings called goitres.

Goitres

goitre is an enlarged thyroid gland. Non-cancerous goitres are usually caused by other less serious problems with your thyroid gland, such as:

Thyroid cancer support

The Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust provides information, advice and support for people with thyroid cancer.

As well as the website, they also have a helpline number that can be contacted on 01207 545469, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.

Page last reviewed: 30/09/2014

Next review due: 30/09/2016

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Overactive thyroid

Overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, is a relatively common condition that occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body