Thyroid cancer can be extremely challenging to treat if it’s not caught early, so it’s important that you know who is at risk and what signs to look for. Today, we take a closer look at which populations are at an increased risk for thyroid cancer, and what symptoms may suggest that you have an issue with your thyroid.
Populations At Risk For Thyroid Cancer
A recent report suggests that the rate of thyroid cancer among white people dropped significantly in the last decade, but the same can’t be said for some populations. In fact, some groups saw a noticeable increase in thyroid cancer rates. The findings, published by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, suggested that these groups have seen a rise in the rate of diagnosed cases of thyroid cancer:
- African Americans
- Young Individuals
All three of those groups saw increases in rates of thyroid cancer, but there’s a silver lining to the news. The report suggests that these groups saw increases in the diagnosed thyroid cancer cases, which means we may be getting better at spotting the signs of thyroid cancer and getting people into clinics to have the problem diagnosed and treated. We’ll dive into symptom awareness in the next section.
Spotting The Signs of Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer affects the thyroid gland, located in your neck area. Thyroid cancer can cause issues in other parts of your body, but the earliest and most obvious signs are apparent in your neck region.
If you notice one or more of these signs, set up a consultation with your primary care physician or a thyroid specialist like Dr. Koeplin.
- A bump or lump in the neck region.
- Swelling in the front or side of the neck.
- Regionalized pain in the neck.
- Changes in your voice (outside of puberty) that do not go away.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Trouble breathing.
- Consistent cough not related to sickness or a cold.
It’s important to note that these symptoms do not mean that you have thyroid cancer, only that you should have the area examined by an experienced professional. Many lumps that form on the thyroid gland are non-cancerous growths or goiters, which, although they should be examined and treated, do not typically have adverse outcomes like thyroid cancer often does. Ignoring the problem will not make the issue go away, and treatment success declines rather swiftly if the cancer goes untreated and spreads to other areas.
Papillary Thyroid Cancer
For example, papillary thyroid cancer is one of the most common types of thyroid cancer. For this type of condition, the five-year survival rate for a person diagnosed with Stage 1 PTC is nearly 100%. The same can be said for Stage 2. However, the five-year survival rate drops to 93% for individuals diagnosed with Stage 3 thyroid cancer. For individuals diagnosed with Stage 4 papillary thyroid cancer, the five-year survival rate drops significantly to 51%.
As you can see, early treatment is always preferred and is associated with much more successful treatment options. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so even if you have the slightest suspicion that something is wrong with your thyroid gland, contact a professional.