Thyroid cancer symptoms: what Hollyoaks actress Abi Phillips said about diagnosis at 28 after finding lumps

The actress said doctors passed off her concerns saying she was ‘young’ and ‘probably getting over a cold’

Former Hollyoaks star Abi Phillips has revealed she has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 28.

The actress announced the news to her followers on Instagram and said she was “not expecting for one moment to get the news that I did.”

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Ms Phillips said the two lumps in her neck were previously "passed off" by doctors who "said I was ‘young’ and it wouldn’t be anything’".

A social media post from former Love Island star, Demi Jones, who was previously diagnosed with thyroid cancer, encouraged the ex-Hollyoaks actress to go and see a specialist.

What did Abi Phillips say about her diagnosis?

Ms Phillips explained that she had “previously been sent away from the doctors after having found two lumps in my neck.

“They’d passed it off and said I was ‘young’ and it wouldn’t be anything and I was ‘probably getting over a cold’ or my body was ‘fighting something off’.”

She added: “I took these pictures before my scans and after my biopsy having a good old laugh about how ridiculously dressed up I looked in the hospital before a gig, not expecting for one moment to get the news that I did two weeks later.”

Despite doctors passing off her concerns she said she “wanted to get everything checked for my own piece of mind.”

She said: “I booked in with a specialist and immediately she told me she was very concerned due to where my lumps were located and referred me for an urgent biopsy and scans."

The actress, who played the role of Liberty Savage in the Channel 4 soap opera from 2010 to 2013, said she was given the diagnosis by a consultant at Birmingham’s QE Hospital two weeks later.

She said she was told she would need surgery and radiotherapy.

"I never thought I would be told that I have cancer at the age of 28, you never think it’s going to happen to you," she said.

What made the actress see a specialist?

Ms Phillips added that she would not have gone to see a specialist if she had not seen a social media post from a former contestant on reality TV show Love Island, Demi Jones - who was previously diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

She said: "Her lumps were in the exact same place as mine.

"If ever you find a lump or something unusual on your body, never just think it’s nothing, don’t be told that you’re fine by the GP and you’re ‘young’, always get things checked out by a specialist if you can and insist on tests even if it turns out to be nothing, as catching things early is crucial for a good prognosis.”

She added: "This time next week I’ll be on the road to recovery after my operation."

What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland - a small gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones.

It is 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.

According to the NHS, symptoms of thyroid cancer can include:

  • a painless lump or swelling in the front of the neck – although only 1 in 20 neck lumps are cancer
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • unexplained hoarseness that does not get better after a few weeks
  • a sore throat that does not get better
  • difficulty swallowing

The NHS advises people to see a GP if you have symptoms of thyroid cancer.

A GP will examine your neck and can organise a blood test to check how well your thyroid is working.

If they think you could have cancer or they’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms, you’ll be referred to a hospital specialist for more tests.

What can cause thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer happens when there’s a change to the DNA inside thyroid cells which causes them to grow uncontrollably and produce a lump.

It’s not usually clear what causes this change, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk.

These include:

  • other thyroid conditions, such as an inflamed thyroid (thyroiditis) or goitre – but not an overactive thyroid or underactive thyroid
  • a family history of thyroid cancer – your risk is higher if a close relative has had thyroid cancer
  • radiation exposure in childhood – such as radiotherapy
  • obesity
  • a bowel condition called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • acromegaly – a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone