Patients with thyroid cancer often first present with a lump in the neck. Often they may not have been the first to notice the lump and other people may have pointed it out to them.
Thyroid cancers are also sometimes found incidentally when there are nodules in the thyroid gland noted on a scan done on the neck for other reasons. These cancers found this way very often cannot be felt and can only be seen on ultrasound scans. Nevertheless, just because a lump cannot be felt does not mean it is not a cancerous lump and all thyroid nodules should be investigated properly to exclude cancer.
Patients who have advanced thyroid cancer can sometimes present with hoarseness. This can occur when cancer invades the nerves that control the movement of the larynx (voice-box). If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, the patient may also be able to feel other enlarged lumps in the neck. Cancers can also cause breathlessness if they cause compression of the trachea and problems swallowing if they compress on the oesophagus.
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