Clare Balding shocked the British media and fans alike in 2009 when she went public about her thyroid cancer diagnosis. The BBC Sport presenter said at the time: “At the moment I sound like Kermit.” Clare reportedly had her first operation in April that year to remove a cyst, just a month before she went public with the cancer news, but a second operation was necessary to remove her thyroid gland which was found to be cancerous.
As the NHS explains, it’s most common in people in their 30s and those over the age of 60. Women are two to three times more likely to develop it than men.
Due to the location of the cancer, you may experience unexplained hoarseness that does not get better after a few weeks, notes the health body.
However, the main symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump in the front of the neck, says the health body.
Other symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
- Swollen glands in the neck
- A sore throat that does not get better
- Pain in your neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing.
“These symptoms can be caused by other conditions, but it’s a good idea to see a GP if you develop any persistent symptoms that you’re worried about,” advises the NHS.
Am I at risk?
It’s not usually clear what causes the changes involved in thyroid cancer but there are a number of things that can increase your risk.
Having any of the risk factors doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop cancer, however.
According to Cancer Research UK, some non cancerous (benign) conditions of the thyroid increase your risk of thyroid cancer.
You have an increased risk if you have one of these conditions in your family – the risk is higher if more than one family member is affected, says the charity.
“Thyroid cancer is more common in people who had radiotherapy treatment, particularly in people treated with radiotherapy when they were children,” adds the charity.
Research has shown that the risk of thyroid cancer is not increased in people routinely exposed to radiation through their work, however.
Other risk factors include:
- A bowel condition called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Acromegaly – a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone.