Symptoms of a Thyroid Nodule
- Thyroid cancer in children most often presents as a mass that is seen or felt in the neck. This mass can be the primary tumor in the thyroid or it may represent a lymph node metastasis.
- Thyroid cancer is usually painless and without symptoms in its early stages.
- Unless an obvious neck nodule or growth can be seen, most cases are detected by chance during a routine physical examination or during a doctor visit for an unrelated purpose.
- Some symptoms that may appear include:
- Hoarseness that is inexplicable and persistent
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nodule (lump) or growth on the neck
- An abnormally large lymph node that fails to spontaneously shrink over a few months' time
More about Nodules and the Possibility of Cancer
- Most thyroid nodules are benign and not cancer.
- In children, 20% to 30% of thyroid nodules are proven to be cancer. In contrast, only 5-10% of nodules in adults are cancer.
Evaluation of a Thyroid Nodule in a Child or Adolescent
The steps may include:
- Physical examination
- Neck ultrasound
- Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy, often under ultrasound guidance
- Thyroid function lab tests
- Chest X-ray
- CT (computerized tomography) without iodine contrast
- Thyroid scan with low-dose radioactive iodine or technetium
For More Information
For more information about causes of thyroid cancer, symptoms of a nodule, and evaluation of a nodule, visit the Newly Diagnosed section of ThyCa's web site.
Last updated: February 21, 2022