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‘Unusual symptom’ when you go to the toilet could be red flag for thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer: Know the symptoms

Thyroid cancer is cancer found in the thyroid gland – a small gland in the front, lower part of the neck.

It makes and releases hormones, with one of its main functions being to produce hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism.

Women are more likely to get it than men, but it’s important to get any symptoms checked as soon as possible.

The NHS lists the main symptoms of thyroid cancer as:

  • a lump in the front, lower part of your neck – the lump usually feels hard, slowly gets bigger and is not painful
  • a hoarse voice
  • a sore throat
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • pain in the front of your neck, or a feeling like something is pressing against your neck

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The health body also lists other symptoms that can occur, one of which is softer poos or diarrhoea.

Cancer Research UK says frequent loose bowel movements can be indicative of a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer.

This type of thyroid cancer, it says, causes “unusual symptoms”, like frequent loose bowel movements and also flushing in the face.

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The charity explains: “These are caused by too much of the hormone calcitonin, made by the medullary thyroid cancer cells.”

Other symptoms of thyroid cancer may include weight loss and a cough.

While these symptoms may not be due to thyroid cancer, it’s important any symptoms you have are checked by a doctor, even if you’re feeling well.

Cancer Research UK adds: “The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful.”

The NHS says see a GP if:

  • you have a lump in your neck – either a new lump or an existing lump that’s getting bigger
  • you’ve had a hoarse voice, sore throat or cough for more than three weeks
  • you have pain in the front of your neck, or a feeling like something is pressing against your neck

But if you’re having difficulty swallowing or breathing, ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111. 

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