Children’s Thyroid Center FAQ

When should my child see a thyroid specialist or endocrinologist?

If your primary care doctor suspects an issue with your child’s thyroid, don’t delay. The thyroid releases hormones that play a vital role in your child’s development and function, including bone growth, sexual development, organ function, and more.

What are the warning signs of thyroid cancer in children?

The most common sign of thyroid cancer in children is a neck mass or lump located in the middle or side of the neck. Other signs include a cough, changes in breathing, or swelling in the neck. A normal thyroid function test, or lab work, does not rule out cancer. Some people assume that thyroid cancer mimics other thyroid symptoms (such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism), but this is not the case.

What does a cancerous thyroid mass feel like and look like?

Usually a cancerous mass on the thyroid doesn’t hurt. It tends to feel hard and might be the size of a marble. The telltale sign of thyroid cancer is that the lump doesn’t go away. 

What are the warning signs of noncancerous thyroid nodules or lumps?

Benign lumps in the neck can be painful and tend to go away with time. They can rarely become infected. Remember, most lumps in the neck are not caused by a thyroid problem. Even lumps that do not go away are more likely to be a noncancerous developmental cyst than a thyroid cancer. An early step in evaluating a lump in the neck is imaging, such as an ultrasound.

What are the warning signs of hyperthyroidism in children?

Hyperthyroidism, such as Graves’ disease, can cause heart palpitations, changes in mood such as increased anxiety, sweating, weight loss, and sometimes diarrhea. The more common symptoms are heart palpitations and mood changes. Several other conditions can mimic the signs of hyperthyroidism, including problems with the heart, nerves, and endocrine system, to name a few.

What are the warning signs of hypothyroidism in children?

Children with hypothyroidism, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, go into slow mode. They tend to be fatigued, experience mental fogginess or difficulty concentrating, or have constipation, and may lose motivation with sports and school. These warning signs can also be caused by unrelated issues including sleep apnea and obesity.