Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid lives in the front part of the neck, just beneath the “Adam’s Apple” and is responsible for how the body uses energy, creates proteins and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones.

The thyroid can be affected by malignant (cancerous) tumours. There are 4 areas which can become affected by cancer: papillary (the most common type of thyroid cancer accounting for about 85% of cases), follicular (about 15% of cases, mainly affecting females, meduallary (about 3% of cases, generally a genetic disposition is the cause), and anaplastic thyroid cancer .

Thyroid cancer is more common among females over 40. Thyroid cancer risk factors include high iodine intake, exposure to radiation. Thyroid cancers can be caused by radiation therapy for head and neck cancers.


Thyroid Cancer often does not present obvious symptoms until the cancer has progressed. There are, however, a few things to look out for which can be warning signs for thyroid cancer.

As with all head and neck cancers the symptoms can be very innocuous but if you are worried and the symptoms persist longer than 3 weeks we urge you to head to your GP and get checked over. Cancer will always have a better outcome the earlier that it is caught, so do not panic but DO get checked over.

Things to look out for are:

  • unexplained hoarseness (lasting longer than 3 weeks)

  • difficulty swallowing

  • difficulty breathing

  • pain in your neck

  • pain in your throat (under or near the “Adam’s Apple - woman have an “Adams’ Apple too it is just smaller and harder to see)

The chances of you having cancer are low but should you have persistent problems with any of the symptoms then make an appointment with your GP. You can find your nearest GP here and they will be able to examine you and make a diagnosis. Please do not get worried but please do get checked out by a doctor.

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