What are the signs and symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer depend on where the cancer is, its size and how far it has spread in the body. 

The most common sign is a lump or swelling in the middle of the neck (where the thyroid is). Lumps in the thyroid are called nodules, but most nodules are not cancerous. Some thyroid cancers can spread to the lymph glands and cause a lump in the side of the neck.

Other less common symptoms of thyroid cancer are:

  • change in voice due to damage of the voice box nerve which runs behind the thyroid gland

  • difficulty swallowing due to compression of the swallowing tube (oesophagus)

  • difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath due to involvement of the windpipe which sits underneath the thyroid gland

  • pressure in the neck when lying down.

Most thyroid cancers do not produce any symptoms and are commonly found incidentally on scans (ultrasound or CT scan) for other conditions.

Most often these symptoms are not from thyroid cancer. However, if you have any of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor as early as possible. They may be able to help diagnose and treat you.