Advanced Thyroid Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Advanced Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancers are usually detected by patients or doctors when they feel a lump in the thyroid gland or when an imaging test for some unrelated condition happens to show a lump in the thyroid gland. Other rare signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer include:

  • A lump or bump somewhere else in the neck: A metastatic lymph node with a biopsy showing thyroid cancer is a rare way that thyroid cancer is detected.
  • Change in voice: Unlike benign tumors in the thyroid gland, thyroid cancers can invade into the nerves to the voice box (larynx) or even the trachea and esophagus. This could cause you to have a hoarse voice.
  • Difficulty with swallowing: If thyroid tumors become very large (or invade into structures), they could cause difficulty with swallowing.

But don’t jump to any conclusions. You could have one or more of these symptoms but NOT have thyroid cancer. There are several non-cancerous causes of the same symptoms. That’s why you need to see a specialist.


1 SEER Fast Facts. Accessed February 2013.

2 Hundahl SA, Fleming ID, Fremgen AM, et al.: A National Cancer Data Base report on 53,856 cases of thyroid carcinoma treated in the U.S., 1985-1995. Cancer. 1998;83:2638-2648.

3 Salerno P, De Falco V, Tamburrino A, Nappi TC, Vecchio G, Schweppe RE, Bollag G, Santoro M, Salvatore G. Cytostatic activity of adenosine triphosphate-competitive kinase inhibitors in BRAF mutant thyroid carcinoma cells. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95(1):450-455.

4 Cooper, D.S., G. M. Doherty, et al. (2009). “Revised American Thyroid Association Management Guidelines for Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: the American Thyroid Association (ATA) Guidelines Taskforce on Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer.” Thyroid 19(11): 1167-1214.

5 Ries LAG, Young JL, Keel GE, Eisner MP, Lin YD, Horner M-J (editors). SEER Survival Monograph: Cancer Survival Among Adults: U.S. SEER Program, 1988-2001, Patient and Tumor Characteristics. National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, NIH Pub. No. 07-6215, Bethesda, MD, 2007.