Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer

Early stages of thyroid cancer may not produce noticeable symptoms. Symptoms that may indicate a benign thyroid nodule, thyroid enlargement (goiter), thyroid cancer, or other cancer of the neck include the following:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Lump in the neck (may be fast growing or hard)
  • Pain in the throat or neck that may extend to the ears
  • Persistent cough, without a cold or other illness
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Voice change (e.g., hoarseness) that persists

In addition to these symptoms, several complications can result from a thyroid nodule. For example, a thyroid nodule may produce excessive levels of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), causing symptoms such as nervousness, weight loss, and a rapid heartbeat. Diarrhea may also occur due to the hormones that are secreted by medullary thyroid cancer cells.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Oct 2006

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015