5 Things You Should Know About Thyroid Cancer

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The diagnosis of cancer is frightening. It doesn’t matter the type or the statistics given by the doctor — the word itself invokes a feeling of uneasiness within us. But that uneasiness should not stop us from knowing the warning signs.

In recognition of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, and for all of those who have fought and are currently fighting the battle, we’d like to share some things you should know about thyroid cancer (and squash some misconceptions).

1. Thyroid cancer is becoming more common.

Of all cancers, thyroid cancer is said to have the fastest-growing rate of incidence in the United States. Since 1990, the chance of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer has more than doubled. The American Cancer Society has estimated that there will be nearly 57,000 new instances of thyroid cancer diagnosed this year. It is expected most of this group will be composed of women because nearly 75% of thyroid cancer cases are found among females.

Part of the increased prevalence of the condition may be attributed to greater detection such as thyroid ultrasound, which is capable of identifying smaller thyroid nodules. Others hypothesize the greater occurrence is due to increased exposure to toxins and chemicals, more cases of autoimmune disease and greater exposure to radiation.

No matter the cause, it is important to be aware of this greater occurrence and keep yourself informed.

2. Thyroid cancer may not present symptoms.

You are probably aware of the common signs of thyroid cancer, including swelling and pain in the neck, hoarseness or loss of voice, and growths or tumors located in and around the neck. This is all pertinent knowledge, but recognizing symptoms may not prove to be the best method of identifying thyroid cancer.

Some forms of thyroid cancer may be asymptomatic or completely without symptoms. This means even if you do not present symptoms of thyroid cancer, there is a possibility it has developed. Because of this, it is critical you take advantage of and follow through with regularly scheduled doctor’s visits.

During these clinical visits, a physical thyroid examination done by your doctor may uncover an abnormal growth or thyroid nodule. Even then, some forms of thyroid cancer may only be identified through x-rays and image testing of the neck.

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