How does thyroid cancer affect the body?

Michael W. Yeh, MD
The main part of the body affected by thyroid cancer is the neck. Most thyroid cancers are discovered as a lump in the lower middle portion of the neck.Sometimes these are discovered by the patient, and more frequently they may be found on a routine physical examination or a scan of the neck.In a fraction of patients, thyroid cancer may move to neck lymph nodes and show up as a lump in the side of the neck.A rapidly growing thyroid cancer can cause pressure and discomfort in the neck, and some men may note difficulty in buttoning a collared shirt.Symptoms of advanced thyroid cancer include trouble breathing, a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, and even bone pain if the cancer has moved to the bones.

Thyroid cancer mostly affects the thyroid gland, which produces important hormones. Normally, the hormones produced by the thyroid regulate important body functions like digestion, heart rate, and body temperature. However, thyroid cancer causes abnormal growth of thyroid cells, which can cause tumors to form in the neck and on the thyroid gland. This affects the production and regulation of the thyroid hormones, which causes problems throughout the body.

Continue Learning about Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer

When cancer invades the thyroid gland, it interferes with our body's ability to make hormones that control our heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.Although there are 4 types of thyroid cancer, the most common i...

s papillary (PA-pih-LAYR-ee) thyroid cancer. A slow forming disease, papillary thyroid cancer typically strikes between the ages of 30 and 50, and affects women more than men. You are at greater risk of developing this disease if you have a personal or family history of goiters, have been exposed to high levels of radiation in the past, or certain genetic endocrine diseases. See your doctor if you notice a lump in your neck, feel hoarse or have trouble breathing or swallowing. This may be a sign cancer has affected your thyroid, which is located at the base of the throat near your windpipe. Early detection and treatment make this one of the least deadly cancers in the U.S.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.