These symptoms can be associated with thyroid cancer – a cancer that affect the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones.
It’s the 20th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, with 150 deaths recorded in 2014.
Thyroid cancer is usually treatable, and in many cases can be cured completely, but it can sometimes return after treatment.
While it’s considered a rare type of cancer, the symptoms shouldn’t be overlooked.
According to the NHS, symptoms of thyroid cancer can include:
- A painless lump or swelling in the front of the neck – although only one in 20 neck lumps are cancer
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Unexplained hoarseness that doesn’t get better after a few weeks
- A sore throat that doesn’t get better
- Difficulty swallowing
The health body advises: “See your GP if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer. The symptoms can be caused by less serious causes, such as an enlarged thyroid, so it’s important to get them checked out.
“Your GP will examine your neck and can organise a blood test to check how well your thyroid is working.
“If they think you could have cancer or they’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms, you’ll be referred to a hospital specialist for more tests.”
Around 3,400 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the UK.
The chance of getting thyroid cancer increases as you get older.
It’s more common in women, and women are more likely to get thyroid cancer in their 30s and 40s than men.
Doctors don’t yet fully understand what causes thyroid cancer, but Bupa says the following things may increase your risk of developing it:
- Exposure to radiation, particularly if this was at a young age. This includes both accidental exposure and medical exposure (radiotherapy)
- Having non-cancerous thyroid disease, such as an enlarged thyroid or inflammation of your thyroid
- Inherited genetic conditions. These include multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 or a bowel condition called familial adenomatous polyposis
- Other people in your close family with thyroid cancer
A 26-year-old newlywed discovered she had the life-threatening disease when a doctor she bumped into in a supermarket on her honeymoon pointed out the symptoms.