When you look at the mirror, there's one thing in particular that you need to look for because it's a common sign of thyroid cancer.
Cancers like breast cancer and skin cancer might be the most common ones that you tend to worry about. But even the risk of thyroid cancer is extremely important for you to take care of, especially if you're a woman. It is estimated that women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer as compared to men, according to the American Cancer Society.
When your body develops this cancer, the tumor starts to grow on your thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck. Although the symptoms generally affect your throat, it should not be confused with throat cancer. There are different types of thyroid cancer, such as Papillary thyroid cancer, Follicular thyroid cancer, Medullary thyroid cancer, Anaplastic thyroid cancer, and Thyroid lymphoma, as explained by Mayo Clinic.
To know whether you have the symptoms of thyroid cancer, check whether you are experiencing any of the following.
When you look at yourself in the mirror or when you notice that an old necklace feels tighter around your neck, it could be because of a lump or nodule that is developing. A lump or nodule is one of the most common symptoms of thyroid cancer, according to ATA (American Thyroid Association).
"If thyroid cancer has already spread to the nearby lymph nodes, the mass might be on side of the neck where the lymph nodes are instead of in the front where the thyroid gland is," said Ilya Likhterov, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, according to Prevention.
If you do notice a lump or this kind of swelling around your neck, it's best to get an appointment fixed with your doctor and get it checked.
If the nodule grows large enough, it can give rise to other problems, especially when it starts pressing against your windpipe or esophagus. Because of this, you might notice that you have trouble swallowing your food because the mass is coming in the way.
When you're an adult and you notice that your voice is changing, it's not a normal sign. When you notice that your voice is changing and sounds more hoarse or gravelly, it could be a symptom of thyroid cancer. "Your voice box sits right on top of your thyroid," said Likhterov. Because of this, changes in your voice will arise.
As the cancer on your thyroid gland starts growing, it can give rise to pain in the area as well. The pain might start in your neck and your throat. And from there, it might start crawling to other areas and you experience the pain in parts like your jaw and your ears.
Because of the mass that is present, and possibly growing, in your throat, the airflow can be obstructed. If you experience any difficulty breathing, it could be an effect of thyroid cancer. Sometimes, you might even feel what's described as a "tickle in the throat" because of the mass.
Even when you don't have a cold or the flu, you might notice that you have a persistent cough and you're not sure why. One of the reasons for this could be the development of thyroid cancer.
There's no reason to panic, even if the word 'cancer' may be attached to your diagnosis. Thyroid cancer is not as life-threatening as cancer that affects other parts of your body. “Patients become concerned when they hear the word ‘cancer’ applied to a lump in body, but we spend a lot of time explaining why it’s not the same as being diagnosed with cancers in other parts of the body,” says John Morris, M.D., past president of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, according to Women's Health.
The key is to fight it, is to catch the cancer in its early stages. Being aware of the symptoms is one way of doing it. Therefore, if you find yourself having the above-mentioned symptoms, it's essential to get yourself checked. "In the vast majority of cases for papillary thyroid cancer, surgery approaches a 100 percent cure rate, even if it’s spread to local lymph nodes. But it’s still critical to diagnose and find early on," said Jochen Lorch, M.D., director of the Thyroid Cancer Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.