Symptoms and Signs of Thyroid Cancer

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer occurs when the cells of the thyroid gland start to grow abnormally. The thyroid gland is located low in the front of the neck, and is shaped like a butterfly and wraps around the windpipe or trachea. Thyroid cancer originates from one of two different types of thyroid cells: follicular cells or so-called parafollicular, or C cells. There are four major types of thyroid cancers: papillary (includes follicular variant papillary thyroid carcinoma), follicular (includes Hurthle cell and insular carcinoma), medullary, and anaplastic.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer include the presence of a thyroid nodule, or lump, that sometimes can be felt in the front of the throat. In rare cases, other symptoms of thyroid cancer include hoarseness, neck enlargement that causes difficulty breathing or swallowing, cough, neck pain, swollen lymph nodes, heart racing, palpitations, or weight loss.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.