Thyroid Cancer

About the thyroid gland

A gland is an organ in the human body that releases particular chemical substances for use in the body. The thyroid gland is a small gland that sits at the base of the neck, just below the voice box.

Map Of Thyroid Gland

Thyroid cancer 

Thyroid cancer is uncommon, with approximately 53,000 newly diagnosed cases in Europe each year. It is 2–3 times more common in women than men.

Risk factors

  • Benign thyroid disease

  • Radiation exposure

  • Family history

  • Obesity


  • A painless lump in the neck, slowly getting bigger
  • A hoarse voice that lasts for more than a few weeks
  • In rare cases a thyroid lump can press on the food pipe and cause difficulty swallowing
  • In rare cases a thyroid lump can press on the wind pipe and cause breathing difficulties

It is unusual for thyroid cancers to upset levels of the circulating thyroid hormones.


In most hospitals, a team of specialists called a multidisciplinary team will advise on the best treatment for you.

Treatment has a very high chance of curing papillary thyroid and follicular thyroid cancer. It may also cure medullary thyroid cancer, but anaplastic thyroid cancer is more difficult to treat.

Thyroid cancer is rare, so there are not many clinical trials. If there is a suitable trial, your specialist may ask you to consider participating. All potential new treatments have to be fully researched before they are adapted as standard treatment, for safety reasons. These treatments have usually been developed and tested in laboratories before they are tested on patients. Participating in a clinical trial is often beneficial for the patient and helps improve knowledge and development of new treatments.

For more information, including the different types of thyroid cancer and the different treatment options, please consult our thyroid cancer fact sheet below: