Symptoms of thyroid cancer

The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a painless lump in the neck that gradually gets bigger. Most thyroid lumps are benign (non-cancerous).

In most people, thyroid cancer develops very slowly. The most common symptom of papillary or follicular thyroid cancer is a painless lump in the neck that gradually gets bigger. Most thyroid lumps are benign (non-cancerous).

Other symptoms include:

  • a hoarse voice, for no obvious reason, that doesn’t go away after a few weeks
  • difficulty swallowing – a thyroid tumour pressing on the gullet (oesophagus) can cause this
  • difficulty breathing – a thyroid tumour pressing on the windpipe (trachea) can cause this
  • pain in the front of the neck.

You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you notice:

  • a lump in your neck, whether it is painful or not
  • any of the other symptoms above.

These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer.

We have separate information about medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer. These have different symptoms.