Thyroid cancer: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

  • Cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Hoarseness or changing voice
  • Neck swelling
  • Thyroid lump (nodule)

Note: Symptoms may vary depending on the type of thyroid cancer

Diagnosis & Tests

A physical examination can reveal a thyroid mass or nodule (usually in the lower part of the front of the neck), or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.

Tests for thyroid cancer:

  • Elevated serum calcitonin (for medullary cancer) or serum thyroglobulin (for papillary or follicular cancer)
  • Laryngoscopy showing paralyzed vocal cords
  • Thyroid biopsy showing anaplastic, follicular, medullary, or papillary cancer cells
  • Thyroid scan showing a nodule that does not light up on the scan (cold nodule)
  • Ultrasound of the thyroid showing a nodule

This disease may also affect the results of the following tests:

  • T3
  • T4
  • TSH

Pictures & Images

Endocrine glands


Review Date : 2/12/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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