Most often the first symptom of thyroid cancer is a nodule in the thyroid region of the neck. However, many adults have small nodules in their thyroids, but typically under 5% of these nodules are found to be malignant.
Sometimes the first sign is an enlarged lymph node. Later symptoms that can be present are pain in the anterior region of the neck and changes in voice.
Thyroid cancer is usually found in a euthyroid patient, but symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may be associated with a large or metastatic well-differentiated tumor.
Thyroid nodules are of particular concern when they are found in those under the age of 20.
The presentation of benign nodules at this age is less likely, and thus the potential for malignancy is far greater.
After a thyroid nodule is found during a physical
examination, a referral to an endocrinologist, a thyroidologist or
otolaryngologist may occur.
Most commonly an ultrasound is performed to confirm the
presence of a nodule, and assess the status of the whole gland.
Measurement of thyroid stimulating hormone and anti-thyroid
antibodies will help decide if there is a functional thyroid disease
such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis present, a known cause of a benign
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