KEY POINTS

  • >520,000 Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer
  • It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among young women
  • Neck lump which can be felt through the skin can be a warning sign
  • Neck lumps can also be a sign of other conditions such as goiter

Recent estimates suggested more than 520,000 Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which is the most common cancer among women in the age group 20-34. Researchers believe that the increase in thyroid cancer diagnosis among Americans is due to the increased detection of smaller cancers via highly sensitive diagnostic tests.

At its initial stages, thyroid cancer might not exhibit any symptoms. But, as it grows, the condition could cause certain symptoms.

Painless lumps or a swelling found in the front of the neck occurs in thyroid cancer patients. A lump in the neck is more likely to be cancer if it feels firm, doesn’t move around easily under the skin or if it gets bigger over time. NHS mentioned that only 1 in every 20 neck lumps are cancer.

Neck lumps can also be caused by a less serious condition including an enlarged thyroid. However, it is recommended that you report it to your doctor if you experience any swelling or lump at the front of your neck.

Other symptoms of thyroid cancer include changes in voice such as increasing hoarseness, pain in your neck and throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, difficulty swallowing, a sore throat that doesn’t get better and difficulty breathing. In rare cases, thyroid cancer can affect the production of thyroid hormones and lead to diarrhea and flushing.

The exact causes of thyroid cancer remain unclear. But, experts believe that it occurs when cells in your thyroid undergo genetic changes. The abnormal thyroid cells accumulate and form a tumor and invade nearby tissues and might spread to other parts of the body. There are various kinds of thyroid cancer including papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer and certain rare types such as thyroid lymphoma and thyroid sarcoma.

Female sex, exposure to high levels of radiation and certain inherited genetic syndromes including Cowden's syndrome, familial medullary thyroid cancer, familial adenomatous polyposis, and multiple endocrine neoplasias can increase a person’s risk of developing thyroid cancer.

head and neck cancer symptoms head and neck cancer symptoms Photo: lum3n - Pixabay