What are the symptoms of thyroid tumors?

Thyroid tumors rarely cause symptoms in their early stages, but if you do have any symptoms, especially those that last longer than two weeks, see your doctor. In early stages, even thyroid cancer responds well to treatment.

Symptoms may include:

  • A lump or swelling in the front of the neck
  • Pain in the neck or ears
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Change in voice tone
  • Hoarseness
  • A chronic cough

How are thyroid tumors diagnosed?

A number of tests may be used to help diagnose and evaluate thyroid tumors:

  • Imaging - Ultrasound is usually the first imaging study used to evaluate the thyroid. Doctors may also use computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and radioiodine scans to help them see the tumor.
  • Laryngoscopy - This procedure using a thin, flexible, lighted tube to assess the function of the vocal cords, view the larynx and other areas in the throat.
  • Biopsy or fine needle aspiration - A doctor will take a small sample of the tumor to confirm the diagnosis and type of thyroid cancer. This is usually done as an outpatient procedure, so you do not have to spend the night in the hospital.
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