Symptoms of thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages because the tumour is very small. Signs and symptoms may appear once the tumour grows bigger and presses on surrounding tissues and organs. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as thyroid cancer.

See your doctor if you have these signs or symptoms:

  • a lump or swelling in the neck
  • hoarseness or other voice changes
  • difficulty swallowing or a sore throat that doesn’t go away
  • difficulty breathing
  • pain in the front of the neck
  • a cough that doesn’t go away

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Thyroid Cancer. 2014: http://www.cancer.org/.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Thyroid Cancer. 2015: http://www.cancer.net/.
  • Cancer Research UK. Thyroid Cancer Symptoms. 2014: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/.
  • Davidge-Pitts CJ, Thompson GB . Thyroid tumors. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 82:1175-1188.
  • Davidson BJ, Newkirk KA, Burman KD . Cancer of the thyroid and the parathyroid: general principles and management. Harrison LB, Sessions RB, Kies MS (eds.). Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 28A:779-824.
  • National Cancer Institute. Thyroid CancerTreatment (PDQ®) Patient Version. 2015: http://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq#section/all.