Papillary Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

Thyroid Nodules and Swollen Lymph Nodes

Papillary thyroid cancer, also known as papillary thyroid carcinoma, develops slowly. And in the early stages of thyroid cancer, many patients don't even experience any symptoms.

In many cases, the first sign of papillary thyroid cancer is a painless lump on the thyroid in the front of the neck. This lump is called a thyroid nodule.

Even though it is painless, a thyroid nodule alone may be enough to bring you to the doctor's office—it's often apparent by sight or touch. But thyroid nodules can cause other signs and symptoms. Though they may not seem out of the ordinary, you should discuss them with your doctor if they do not go away. These include:

  • throat pain
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • hoarse voice

Sometimes, a cancerous thyroid nodule can't be seen or felt by you or your doctor. In those cases, you may notice a swollen lymph node instead. Lymph nodes fight infection and are located throughout your body. If thyroid cancer spreads to the lymph nodes in your neck, then the lymph nodes will become swollen.

Lymph nodes can become enlarged for a variety of reasons—many of them not related to thyroid cancer. When you have a severe sore throat, for instance, the lymph nodes in your neck may swell. But after the infection goes away, the lymph nodes return to their normal size. So if you notice a swollen lymph node for an extended period of time, you should talk to your doctor.

Papillary thyroid carcinoma is just one form of thyroid cancer. If you'd like more information on the general signs of symptoms of all types of thyroid cancer, please read our article on thyroid cancer symptoms.