5 key warning signs of thyroid cancer

The thyroid gland regulates hormones controlling key aspects of cardiovascular and blood circulation, and any imbalance in this hormone production can lead to serious health complications. Thyroid cancer is the development of abnormal cells in the gland. The condition can be triggered by an abnormal mutation in the gland’s healthy cells. Most symptoms linked to this cancer develop gradually, causing varying levels of discomfort. Here are a few key warning signs of developing thyroid cancer:

Visible lumps
The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck. The gland’s main function is to produce the necessary hormones that regulate vital functions like heart rate, blood pressure, and even body temperature. One of the visible signs of thyroid cancer is a small lump that starts forming around the gland, and it can be easily felt or observed through the skin. Even if the lumps have not formed yet, visible enlargement of the thyroid gland can indicate a developing problem.

Persistent neck discomfort
Commonly, people experience discomfort around the lower base of the neck when the first symptoms of swelling and enlargement develop as cancer progresses. This is similar to the feeling of wearing a collared shirt that is tight around the base of the neck. This symptom can be observed even when wearing loose, breathable fabric, indicating swelling around the gland. Persistent pain in the neck and throat also indicates developing thyroid problems, especially if the one is not affected by any other ailment like the common cold or flu.

Changes in cough color and consistency
A persistent cough that develops despite not having a common cold or flu can also indicate problems with the thyroid gland. One may experience a frequent urge to clear their throat as the cough persists. They can experience severe bouts of coughing, affecting their daily routine. It is also important to keep an eye out for blood in the mucus or sputum while clearing the throat, as that could be a sign of organ deterioration. Identifying early signs can help oncologists promptly diagnose and confirm the stage of cancer.

Changes in voice
Gradual changes in one’s voice without any underlying condition or health complications could indicate thyroid cancer. This is because the thyroid gland wraps around the voice box, forming a butterfly shape, and the cartilage protects the front part of the vocal cords from any damage caused by an injury to the neck. Nodules, bumps, and changes in the gland shape can put pressure on the larynx and voice box resulting in hoarseness. The change can develop gradually as cancer progresses. Also, hormonal changes in the thyroid gland can trigger subtle modulations in the voice.

Breathing issues and pain
One may also experience persistent pain in the front of the neck. This discomfort can move to the back of the ears as the gland grows in size. The change in shape and the swelling around the thyroid gland puts pressure on the throat and nasal passage, making it difficult to breathe normally. Many people compare this symptom to how one would feel when using a straw to breathe.

If any of the symptoms persist and the pain intensifies over time, one should seek a doctor’s assistance. Upon receiving a thyroid cancer diagnosis, one must consider the possible treatment options such as surgery, radioactive iodine, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The MSK Cancer Center offers stellar treatment plans aided by insurance and financial assistance programs. Additionally, joining a cancer community can motivate one to manage the disease better and cope with the side effects of treatment.