Now that the calendar has turned to September, it’s easy to focus on things like back to school season or the cooling temperatures, but September is also known for one oft-overlooked aspects of our health – Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. As the name implies, September is dedicated to helping the public learn more about thyroid cancer, including what symptoms to be aware of and how to lower your risk of the condition. We hope to do all that and more in today’s blog.
Thyroid Cancer Basics
Your thyroid gland are located in your throat, so if you notice any visible swelling in the area, consider having it examined by a doctor. Other symptoms that may suggest you have an issue with your thyroid gland include:
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Changes in Voice
- Neck Pain
- Persistent Cough
- Inhibited or Difficulty Breathing
Also, while there is a familial component to thyroid cancer, it’s important to note that the majority of thyroid cancers develop without a family history of the condition, so just because it doesn’t run in your family doesn’t mean you should ignore symptoms. Thyroid cancer is a growing problem, as more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition in 2018 alone, and while some of that may be due to better detection capabilities, we also need to be aware of the signs of thyroid cancer and who is at greatest risk.
According to the American Cancer Society, women are much more likely to develop thyroid cancer, as about 75 percent of new cases will involve women. That doesn’t mean men are immune from the condition, as men are more likely to get diagnosed with thyroid cancer in their 60s and 70s, while women are more likely to be plagued by the condition in their 40s and 50s.
Regular Exams and Screenings
Although the United States Preventive Services Task Force has stated that individuals with no symptoms do not require regular screenings, your best chance of successful treatment is if the condition is caught early. Also, the majority of thyroid cancer issues are detected when the person is not showing symptoms, so make sure you are getting your yearly physical, and visit a doctor at the first sign of symptoms.
Another reason why early detection is important is because thyroid cancer comes in many different forms. As we explained on this blog, there are a variety of different types of thyroid cancers, but the most common is papillary carcinoma, which has great treatment rates when detected early on. When you’re between physicals, make sure you’re performing weekly or monthly self-checks of your throat and thyroid area, looking for lumps or growths.
So this month and every month going forward, make sure you take a look at your throat and perform a self-check of your thyroid. Thyroid cancer is on the rise, but it’s very curable if we’re cognizant about symptom awareness and seeking treating. For questions, concerns or to set up an appointment with a thyroid specialist, reach out to Dr. Koeplin’s office today!