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What are the symptoms?

Thyroid cancer usually develops slowly, without many obvious symptoms. However, some people experience one or more of the following:

  • a painless lump in the neck (the lump may grow gradually)
  • trouble swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • changes to the voice, e.g. hoarseness
  • swollen lymph glands (lymph nodes) in the neck (the lymph nodes may slowly grow in size over months or years).

Although a painless lump in the neck is a typical sign of thyroid cancer, thyroid lumps (nodules) are common and turn out to be benign in 90% of adults.

Having an underactive or overactive thyroid (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism) is not typically a sign of thyroid cancer.