Thyroid cancer occurs in the cells of the thyroid — a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam's apple. Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
Although thyroid cancer isn't common in the United States, rates seem to be increasing. Doctors think this is because new technology is allowing them to find small thyroid cancers that may not have been found in the past. Most cases of thyroid cancer can be cured with treatment.Symptoms
Thyroid cancer typically doesn't cause any signs or symptoms early in the disease. As thyroid cancer grows, it may cause:
- A lump that can be felt through the skin on your neck
- Changes to your voice, including increasing hoarseness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain in your neck and throat
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
When to see a doctor
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. Thyroid cancer isn't common, so your doctor may investigate other causes of your signs and symptoms first.
Factors that may increase the risk of thyroid cancer include:
- Being Female. Thyroid cancer occurs more often in women than in men.
- Exposure to high levels of radiation. Examples of exposure to high levels of radiation include radiation treatments to the head and neck and fallout from sources such as nuclear power plant accidents or weapons testing.
- Certain inherited genetic syndromes. Genetic syndromes that increase the risk of thyroid cancer include familial medullary thyroid cancer and multiple endocrine neoplasia.
Specialized surgical procedures available include pancreatic resection of endocrine tumors and adrenalectomy (removal of the adrenal gland), when indicated.