Prompt attention to signs and symptoms is the best way to diagnose most thyroid cancers early. Thyroid cancer can cause any of the following local signs or symptoms:
- A nodule, lump, or swelling in the neck, sometimes growing rapidly.
- Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears.
- Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Breathing problems (feeling as if one were "breathing through a straw").
- A cough that continues and is not due to a cold.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Many non-cancerous conditions (and some other cancers of the neck area) can cause some of the same symptoms.
Remember thyroid nodules are common and are usually benign. But the only way to find out for sure is to have a medical evaluation. The sooner you receive a correct diagnosis, the sooner you can start treatment and the more effective your treatment will be.