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The importance of thyroid symptoms you can see

The importance of thyroid symptoms you can see
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Most thyroid cancer is found by accident – doctors usually find it when patients are getting ultrasounds, CT scans or MRIs for an unrelated reason. The nodules themselves are rarely noticeable, says endocrinologist Dr Michael Tuttle. Patients can usually choose to keep an eye on the cancer and make sure it doesn’t get worse rather than getting treatment right away, he says. “I would ignore asymptomatic, millimetre-sized things that you’d only find if you’re looking for it,” he says. “But any signs or anything you can feel in the neck, that would cross over to something you should no longer ignore.” If you have any of these potential thyroid cancer symptoms, go and see you GP.

Lump in the neck

Lump in the neck
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Men will often find a nodule while shaving, while women might notice one while putting on makeup, says professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic Robert Smallridge. About 90% of thyroid nodules are benign, but if you have a large lump in the front of your neck below the Adam’s apple, pay attention to how it acts. “The trick is [to gauge whether] it moves up and down when you swallow,” Dr Tuttle says. “Most other lumps don’t move.”

The thyroid gland plays a huge part in controlling our heart rate, respiration, major organs and metabolism. Here’s what the thyroid experts want us to know.

Hoarse voice

Hoarse voice
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The recurrent laryngeal nerve, which controls the muscles that open and close vocal cords, lies right behind the thyroid. In rare cases, a nodule, particularly a cancerous one, can extend beyond the thyroid, damaging that nerve and affecting your voice box, Dr Smallridge says. “Most patients describe it as hoarseness,” he says.

Whether overactive or underactive, your thyroid could be the culprit for a surprising range of symptoms.

Chronic cough

Chronic cough
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A small percentage of people with thyroid cancer will develop a mysterious cough that doesn’t come with any other symptoms typically related to congestion. “A cough from thyroid cancer is not infectious, so people are puzzled and wonder why they’re coughing with no fever and no phlegm,” Dr Tuttle says.

Difficulty swallowing

Difficulty swallowing
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A nodule that has become so large that you’re having trouble swallowing could indicate the cancer is aggressive and highly malignant. “It’s rare but worrisome,” Dr Tuttle says. “It means things have gotten big and are growing.” Difficulty swallowing could also be a symptom of throat cancer, so be sure to ask your doctor if you’re worried.

Neck pain

Neck pain
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You won’t be able to feel most thyroid cancer lumps – the soreness is more likely to come because you slept funny, or you hit the gym too hard, or simply your bag is too heavy. “Hardly any are painful or uncomfortable,” says Dr Tuttle. But in rare cases, the nodules can hurt. The pain would start in the front of your neck, and sometimes even travel all the way up to your ears.

Don’t miss these other cancer symptoms you should never ignore.

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Trouble breathing

Trouble breathing
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Even when you aren’t swallowing or speaking, thyroid cancer symptoms could make it hard to breathe. With anaplastic thyroid cancer – a very rare form that makes up only about 1% of thyroid cancer cases – nodules grow quickly. As the lump gets bigger, it could push against the windpipe and nerves, says Dr Smallridge. You might feel short of breath when you aren’t active, especially when lying flat.

To lighten the mood, check out these fun facts you never knew about your voice box.

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Source: RD.com

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