Early Signs And Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the neck. Though it cannot be felt by most people, it has a vital role. It produces hormones that help regulate metabolism, body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Thyroid cancer occurs when cells in this gland grow abnormally in an uncontrolled manner. Thyroid cancer is one of the common cancers among women and 2nd leading cancer in pregnant women. Read more to learn about the early signs of thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancers are usually slow-growing, and most of them are cured with appropriate treatment. Thyroid cancer may not show symptoms or signs at early stages. It is often found during imaging tests such as CT performed for other health conditions or through visiting a healthcare professional for visible neck lumps.
Neck lump, the major early sign to notice:
Currently, most thyroid cancer cases are found much earlier than in the past years and can be cured with successful treatment. One of the major early signs of this cancer is swelling or lumps in your neck. However, only one in twenty neck lumps are due to cancer, and they can be caused by other less serious conditions such as goiter.
Visit your physician if you notice any lumps or swelling in the neck, especially if the lump grows bigger over time or feels firm. He/ she can examine and find out the cause. In the early stages of thyroid cancer, people may also feel tired, have a persistent cough that is not caused by a cold or hoarseness.
Thyroid Cancer Symptoms
- Swollen glands in the neck – feel like painful, tender lumps
- Difficulty swallowing – a cancerous growth in the thyroid can make you feel that something is in your throat and may require extra effort to swallow the food.
- Difficulty breathing – if the swelling worsens quickly, it may lead to breathing difficulties.
- Unexplained hoarseness (changes to the voice) does not go away even after a few weeks.
- Pain in the neck or throat some people may find the pain extending to the ears.
- A sore throat – that has existed for more than three weeks.
The other symptoms that may occur with thyroid cancer include flushing and diarrhea.
What Must I Do If I Notice These Signs And Symptoms? What Will My Physician Do?
If you have a painless lump in the neck, you might be thinking of ignoring it. It is very vital to visit a health care professional and find out the cause since the more early the cancer is found, the more successful the treatment is and the more the cure rate it has.
Visiting a doctor immediately is crucial if you have had previous radiation therapy to the head and neck or have certain inherited genetic conditions such as multiple endocrine neoplasia, as they are risk factors for developing thyroid cancer.
Your physician will perform a physical examination first and assess the firmness and size of the thyroid gland and look for any enlargement in your thyroid gland. He/ she may also ask about the risk factors and family history of disorders.
Blood tests named thyroid function tests will be done to check the thyroid hormone levels. It will check if the thyroid is working as it should and help rule out other conditions.
An ultrasound scan can check for lumps in the thyroid by creating a picture of body structures. The physician will perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis if the lump is found. Usually, in a biopsy, a thin needle is inserted into the lump to remove the small sample of cells and analyzed under a microscope. Your doctor may do some other tests such as a CT scan or MRI scan to check if thyroid cancer has spread to other parts of the body in case you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Don’t Ignore What Your Body Says
Experts don’t know why thyroid cancers develop in certain people yet, and there are no sure ways to prevent this condition. But fortunately, most thyroid cancers have an almost 100 percent cure rate when found early. Noticing the early signs and symptoms and bringing that to the doctor’s attention may help find them in earlier stages.