Thyroid Cancer Symptoms and Warning Signs
Each year, about 20,000 people in the U.S. develop cancer of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ located on the lower front of the neck just below the Adam's apple. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism. Thyroid cancer can occur in anyone, but certain groups of people are at greater risk for developing the condition. These include:
There are different types of thyroid cancer (carcinoma of the thyroid), and the most common types (papillary carcinoma and follicular carcinoma) are highly curable if detected early. Up to 97% of these common types of thyroid cancer that occur in younger people are completely cured with appropriate treatment. Less common types, including medullary carcinoma and anaplastic carcinoma, tend to spread more rapidly and extensively than the other types and have a worse prognosis.
Most commonly, thyroid cancers in the early stage produce no symptoms. As the cancer grows, a small lump or nodule can be felt in the neck. The vast majority of thyroid nodules are caused by benign conditions, but about one per cent of these lumps represent early stages of thyroid cancer. If the cancer spreads, it can cause symptoms that include:
Remember, 99% of nodules in the thyroid gland are benign, but only your doctor can determine if a lump in your neck is cancerous. Even the symptoms above can be caused by infections and other benign conditions. If you have a lump in the neck or have the above symptoms, you should visit your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms.
For more, please read the Thyroid Cancer article.
Last Editorial Review: 1/26/2007