This section is for teens and young adults. It's about specific types of thyroid cancer called papilliary thyroid cancer and follicular thyroid cancer. These are the most common types of thyroid cancer in young adults. If you'd like to find out about a different type of thyroid cancer you could talk to us.
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If you're looking for information about thyroid cancer in people of all ages, please see our broader thyroid cancer information.
It’s important to remember that thyroid cancer in young people can be successfully treated - and most young people are completely cured.
In most people the first sign of thyroid cancer is a lump or swelling in the neck that gradually gets bigger. These are the most common symptoms:
painless swelling or lump in the neck
hoarse voice that doesn't get better
difficulty swallowing or breathing
If you do have any of these symptoms it's important to get them checked out by a doctor. But it's important to remember that these symptoms can happen for lots of reasons other than cancer.
What are the causes of thyroid cancer?
We don’t fully understand what causes thyroid cancer, but research is going on all the time to try to find the answer. We know that some things (called risk factors) increase our chance of developing cancer, but this doesn’t mean we’ll definitely get cancer.
Genes are the information we inherit from our parents. They affect the way our body develops and how we look (like the colour of our hair and eyes). Inheriting a faulty gene from your parents can increase your risk of thyroid cancer slightly. But less than 1 in 10 cases of cancer are caused by an inherited faulty gene.
There are also some rare diseases and conditions that run in families (genetic conditions). These can increase the chances of someone developing thyroid cancer.
It’s also thought that people who have had radiotherapy as a young child may be at a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer many years later.
If you're worried about thyroid cancer
If you think you might have some of these symptoms you should go straight to your GP. They'll be able to talk to you about your symptoms, and if they think they could be because of cancer they can do tests to find out more.