It's Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month - Don’t Forget to Check Your Neck! | Blog

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month - Don’t Forget to Check Your Neck!

It's Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month - Don’t Forget to Check Your Neck!

Wed, Sep 26, 2018  -  Comments (0)  -   Posted by Lori Adams

As CHAMPS Oncology’s resident “pinner,” I’ve been reading up on thyroid cancer this month to beef up our Thyroid Cancer Pinterest Board in honor of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month.

Did you know thyroid cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women, with two out of three people diagnosed under the age of 55? Risk factors for developing thyroid cancer include:

  • A family history of thyroid disease
  • Being female
  • Being over 40 years old
  • Prior radiation exposure

Read on for more highlights from my Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month research…

THYROID CANCER RATES

Rates of thyroid cancer have steadily increased since 1975, nearly tripling, but death from thyroid cancer is very rare. Researchers attribute this increase to thyroid nodules discovered incidentally on diagnostic testing for other reasons. When nodules greater than one centimeter are found, physicians will often recommend a thyroid biopsy.

THYROID CANCER SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of thyroid cancer include:

  • A lump or swelling in the neck
  • Hoarseness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Neck pain
  • Vocal changes
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

Though these symptoms can be associated with thyroid disease and benign nodules, thyroid cancer must be ruled out.

TYPES OF THYROID CANCER

There are four types of thyroid cancer:

1. Papillary
The most common type, capturing 80 percent of newly diagnosed cases. This type of thyroid cancer is easily treatable with surgical removal.
2. Follicular Carcinoma
The second most common type, and like papillary, is easily treated with surgical intervention.
3. Medullary
A far rarer type of thyroid cancer, but it is most concerning as it can spread before a nodule is discovered. Treatment outcome is still good if caught before this cancer is outside the thyroid gland.
4. Anaplastic Carcinoma
A less frequently found type of thyroid cancer, but it is a very aggressive form and is far more difficult to control and treat. This diagnosis carries a higher risk of death.

TREATMENT OF THYROID CANCER

Treatment for thyroid cancer consists of surgical removal of part or the whole thyroid lobe affected with or without follow-up radiation treatment. Involvement outside the thyroid gland demands more aggressive treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation. 

Recently, researchers have questioned whether some cancerous thyroid nodules could simply be watched due to slow growth of the cancer and a low risk of spreading. This would be advantageous because once surgery is done, many patients need lifelong thyroid replacement hormone. The current recommendation is that physicians discuss this option with patients to determine whether they prefer surgery or simply watchful waiting. 

Has thyroid cancer touched your life? Are you doing something special to observe Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month? Please share by leaving a comment below.

To learn more about thyroid cancer and browse several websites used in researching this blog post, visit CHAMPS Oncology’s Thyroid Cancer Pinterest Board.

Posted in Oncology Industry

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