Symptoms of papillary and follicular 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 and follicular thyroid cancer is a painless lump in the neck. The lump usually gets slowly bigger. Most thyroid lumps are not cancerous (benign) but it is important to get any lump checked.

Other symptoms include:

  • a hoarse voice and sore throat that has no obvious cause and does not go away after a few weeks
  • difficulty swallowing – caused by a thyroid tumour pressing on the gullet (oesophagus)
  • difficulty breathing – caused by a thyroid tumour pressing on the windpipe (trachea)
  • 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
  • you notice any of the other symptoms above.

These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer.

Symptoms of other thyroid cancers

Rarer types of thyroid cancer have different symptoms. We have more information about the symptoms of medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer. These have different symptoms.

We understand that showing any symptoms of what could be cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We're also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

  • Call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.
  • Chat to our specialists online