The thyroid gland sometimes develops lumps called cysts or nodules. Most of these nodules are benign (not cancerous).
Cancer specialists at Kaiser Permanente medical offices work closely with endocrinologists and surgeons to create a treatment plan for each patient, based on the latest research and technology.
Thyroid cancer develops when abnormal cells in the thyroid gland grow out of control. The thyroid gland is in the neck, in front of the windpipe and below the voice box. The thyroid gland makes and releases hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight.
Some people with thyroid cancer don’t have symptoms in the early stages. Usually the first sign is a lump or swelling in the neck, often found by a primary care doctor during a routine office exam. Other symptoms can include pain in the neck or ears, trouble swallowing or breathing, wheezing, hoarse voice, or cough not related to a cold.
Although most thyroid lumps are not cancer it is important to check with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
No one knows exactly what causes thyroid cancer, but certain changes to DNA occur as people age, and this may play a role. Also, over-exposure to radiation can increase a person’s chances.
To learn more, see Thyroid Cancer.