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Your thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck, makes hormones that help regulate your metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. This hard-working gland is susceptible to cancer, however.

The good news is most thyroid cancers are very curable. In fact, the most common types of thyroid cancer (papillary and follicular thyroid cancer) are the most curable.

We don’t know exactly what causes thyroid cancer. But getting too much radiation around the neck area, especially when you are young, or having certain genetic conditions, may make getting thyroid cancer more likely.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer can include:

  • A lump or swelling in the neck, sometimes growing quickly
  • Having trouble breathing
  • Having trouble swallowing
  • Having a hoarse voice

Lumps in the thyroid are common and are usually benign. But a lump or swelling in the neck is also the most common sign of thyroid cancer. Here’s how to check your neck:

  1. Locate your thyroid gland—it’s above your collarbone and below your larynx and Adam’s apple.
  2. Keeping your focus on this part of the neck, tip your head back, then swallow a drink of water.
  3. Look at your neck in the mirror while you swallow, checking for any bumps.

If you have symptoms of thyroid cancer, see your doctor so the cause can be found and treated, if needed. To find an in-network doctor near you, use the Doctor& Hospital Finder.