The main symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump or swelling in the front of the neck, just below the Adam's apple. This lump is usually painless and can be felt through the skin. Women may have a smaller and less prominent Adam's apple than men. Other symptoms may include changes in voice, difficulty swallowing, pain in the neck or throat, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice. Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the lower front of the neck, below the larynx and above the collarbones. Cancer cells begin to grow out of control, which can lead to a lump in this area.
In most cases, only one side is affected and thyroid function tests are usually normal. An ultrasound of the thyroid may be performed to create an image of the thyroid and surrounding tissues. If a suspicious nodule is found, a biopsy will be performed to check for thyroid cancer. Other changes such as hair, nails, or skin may also be present.
A body scan may be done to determine if the disease has spread to other parts of the body. According to the American Cancer Society, about 53,000 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year in the US, with most cases occurring in women in their 40s and 50s and men in their 60s and 70s. Poorly differentiated thyroid cancers include medullary thyroid cancer, thyroid lymphoma, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Parathyroid gland cancers are very rare.
After surgery or other treatments, regular follow-up visits with an endocrinologist are important to check if cancer returns or spreads to other organs in the body. While none of these therapies are currently approved by the FDA for treating thyroid cancer, several clinical studies have shown that they are reasonably effective in stopping tumor progression.