Individuals who take Byetta should remain vigilant for symptoms of thyroid cancer. The thyroid gland is located in the center of the front of the neck, and thyroid cancer can cause pain, nodules, coughing, voice changes, problems swallowing, and more.
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Byetta and Thyroid Cancer
Individuals who use Byetta (exenatide) may be at risk of developing thyroid cancer, but the risk is still under investigation. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Drug Safety Communication to announce that drug-makers Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co. must conduct 6 post-marketing surveillance studies to better understand the potential link between Byetta and thyroid cancer. The result of these studies are still pending.
However, in the meantime, a study published in Gastroenterology by researchers from UCLA has linked Byetta to at least 30 cases of thyroid cancer in the FDA MedWatch database. Although case reports alone do not prove that Byetta can cause thyroid cancer, the researchers recommended that patients with a family history of thyroid cancer should avoid Byetta.
Byetta Thyroid Cancer Symptoms
Thyroid cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages. However, as the cancer grows, it may produce the following symptoms:
- Lump on the neck: Thyroid cancer begins as a small nodule on the thyroid gland, usually in the center of the front of the neck. This nodule often goes unnoticed until a doctor performs a thyroid exam.
- Changes in tone of voice (hoarseness): The thyroid is located just below the voice box (larynx), and a nodule pressing on the larynx could change a person’s voice.
- Problems swallowing: The thyroid is in front of the windpipe, and a growing tumor could constrict the airway and make breathing and swallowing more difficult.
- Neck or throat pain
- Swollen lymph nodes: Thyroid cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and remain enlarged.
- Chronic cough
- Goiter: Severely enlarged thyroid gland
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