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Understanding Thyroid Cancer: Recognizing Early Warning Signs

early warning signs of thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is relatively rare, but its incidence has steadily increased over the past few decades. Although thyroid cancer often has a good prognosis when detected early, it is essential to recognize the early warning signs and symptoms. 

Globally, approximately 586,202 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2020. Leading hospitals in India, Thailand, Turkey, Malaysia, UAE, Germany etc. boast renowned qualified Oncologists proficient in treating thyroid cancer. 

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What Is Thyroid Cancer?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland. It is located at the base of the neck, just below your Adam's apple. It produces hormones which regulate various bodily functions, such as metabolism, energy production, and body temperature. Thyroid cancer occurs when malignant cells grow uncontrollably in the tissues of the thyroid gland.

What are the Different Types of Thyroid Cancer?

There are several types of thyroid cancer, but the most common ones include the following:

  • Papillary thyroid cancer: This type accounts for nearly 80% of cases of thyroid cancer. It tends to grow slowly and has a relatively high cure rate.
  • Follicular thyroid cancer: This type accounts for about 10-15% of thyroid cancer cases. It also tends to grow slowly and is usually curable.
  • Medullary thyroid cancer: Medullary thyroid cancer accounts for about 4% of thyroid cancers. It originates from the C cells of the thyroid gland and may be more aggressive than papillary and follicular thyroid cancers.
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Although rare, this type is aggressive and difficult to treat. It accounts for around 1-2% of thyroid cancer cases.
  • Thyroid lymphoma: Being a rare form, it originates in the cells of the immune system of the thyroid gland.

What are the Early Warning Signs of Thyroid Cancer?

warning signs

Thyroid cancer often presents subtle symptoms, making it challenging to detect in its early stages. However, awareness of these warning signs can be helpful in early diagnosis and treatment. 

Here are the early warning signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer:

  • Neck lump or enlargement: The most common early sign of thyroid cancer is a painless lump or nodule in the neck. While most thyroid nodules are benign, a healthcare professional should evaluate any persistent lump.
  • Hoarseness or voice changes: Thyroid nodules or tumors can press against the recurrent laryngeal nerve, leading to changes in your voice or persistent hoarseness.
  • Difficulty swallowing: If a thyroid nodule grows large enough, it can cause difficulty swallowing or a sensation of a lump in the throat.
  • Neck pain: Some individuals with thyroid cancer may experience pain in the front of their neck that can radiate up to the ears.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes: Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck are another possible sign of thyroid cancer.
  • Changes in breathing: In rare cases, large thyroid tumors can obstruct the airway and cause breathing difficulties.
  • Throat or neck pain: Some individuals may experience unexplained pain in the neck or throat.
  • Fatigue and weakness: General fatigue, weakness, and unexplained weight loss can be associated with thyroid cancer, although these symptoms are less specific.

If you have thyroid cancer that has metastasized to other body parts, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexpected weight loss

Non-cancerous conditions may also cause many of these symptoms. However, if you experience any of these symptoms persistently or have risk factors for thyroid cancer, consult a healthcare professional.

What are the Risk Factors for Thyroid Cancer?

risk factors of thyroid cancer

While thyroid cancer can occur in anyone, a certain risk factor increases the likelihood of developing it. These risk factors include the following:

  • Gender: Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men. It ranks as the seventh most prevalent cancer among women.
  • Age: It is most commonly diagnosed in people between 30 and 60.
  • Family history: Your risk may be higher if you have a family history of thyroid cancer or certain genetic syndromes.
  • Radiation exposure: Exposure to radiation, especially during childhood, increases the risk of thyroid cancer.
  • Enlarged thyroid (Goiter): A long-standing goiter may slightly increase the risk.
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis: An autoimmune condition like Hashimoto's thyroiditis may slightly increase the risk.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Thyroid Cancer?

If thyroid cancer is diagnosed, treatment options may include the following:

  • Surgery: It is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer. It removes part or all of the thyroid gland, depending on the extent and type of cancer.
  • Radioactive iodine therapy: After surgery, radioactive iodine therapy may be used to destroy any remaining cancerous thyroid tissue or cells.
  • Thyroid hormone replacement: Individuals who have undergone thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine therapy require lifelong thyroid hormone replacement medication.
  • External beam radiation therapy: External beam radiation therapy may be used in some cases to treat thyroid cancer. It is especially used if the cancer has spread to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
  • Targeted therapy and chemotherapy: These treatments are typically reserved for advanced or aggressive forms of thyroid cancer and are less commonly used.

The prognosis for thyroid cancer is quite favorable, especially when detected and treated early. The type of thyroid cancer, its stage, age and overall health of the patient all play a significant role in determining the prognosis. Being the most common types, papillary and follicular thyroid cancers have high cure rates, with most individuals achieving a complete recovery.

What is the Cost of Thyroid Cancer Treatment?

The cost of surgery for thyroid cancer is as follows:


Cost of Thyroidectomy (USD)


4000 - 6000


4900 - 6000


4000 - 6000

United Arab Emirates

6000 - 7000


4900 - 13000


Given its relatively good prognosis when diagnosed early, paying attention to any persistent symptoms is essential. Regular check-ups, particularly if you have a family history or a history of radiation exposure, can help with early detection.

If you suspect thyroid cancer or experience any concerning symptoms, seek immediate evaluation and care from your healthcare provider. Early detection with timely treatment can make a significant difference in the outcome of thyroid cancer cases.

nishu Author Name

A microbiologist by education, Nishu Negi clearly understands scientific/healthcare concepts and ideas. She is a creative content writer passionate about innovative concepts and expresses these with clarity in her writing. She enjoys writing blog posts and articles in a way that the target audience understands them. 

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