Thyroid cancer doesn’t always have signs, so it can be hard to detect and diagnose. In fact, some of the possible thyroid cancer signs aren’t actually caused by thyroid cancer itself. Instead, these signs can be caused by a thyroid nodule—and thyroid nodules aren’t necessarily cancerous.

However, most people diagnosed with thyroid cancer signs usually find out first that they have a thyroid nodule. Through further testing, they can be diagnosed with a type of thyroid cancer. There are 4 main types of thyroid cancer signs

Learn more about the types of thyroid cancer in our Patients’ Guide to Thyroid Cancer Signs.

Initially, though, people may go into the doctor because they notice the following symptoms and signs:

  • Lump in the Neck: Not all thyroid nodules are big enough to cause a noticeable lump. Some people, though, may notice a lump in the front of their neck. You may be able to see it, or perhaps you can’t see it but you can feel it. Other people may notice a lump in your neck when you swallow. The most common way that a thyroid lump (and potential thyroid cancer) is detected, however, is when a doctor performs a thyroid exam and feels your thyroid.
  • Swollen Lymph Node: Swollen lymph nodes in the neck are another thyroid cancer signs. Thyroid cancer can spread to the lymph nodes, which are scattered throughout your body to help you fight infection. The lymph nodes in your neck (you can feel them under your jaw) become swollen when you have a cold or sore throat, for example. When the infection is gone, they should return to their normal size, so if the lymph nodes in your neck stay enlarged for an extended period—and you aren’t sick—you should talk to your doctor.
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