Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, celebrated each September, is a great opportunity to bring awareness to Thyroid Cancer – including detection, care standards, and research to achieve cures. Thyroid Cancer effects about 33,000 women and 12,000 men each year, and causes 1,000 deaths of women and 900 deaths in men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is Thyroid Cancer?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland at the base of the throat. Thyroid cancer is a condition in which cancer cells grow in the tissues of the thyroid gland. There are four main types of thyroid cancer – papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic – which differ in how aggressive they are.
What Are the Symptoms?
Thyroid cancer typically does not have symptoms early in the disease, but according to Cancer.gov the possible symptoms for Thyroid Cancer are:
- A lump (nodule) in the neck.
- Trouble breathing.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Pain when swallowing.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
What Tests are Used to Diagnose Thyroid Cancer?
While blood tests are not used to find Thyroid Cancer, they can help show if your thyroid is working normally – these tests include TSH, T3, T4, Thyroglobulin and more. Imaging tests that examine the thyroid and neck are used to diagnose thyroid cancer, as well as a biopsy, in which cells from the suspicious area are removed and looked at in the laboratory.
Check Your Neck
The best way to initially test thyroid function is to measure TSH levels. Changes in TSH can serve as an “early warning system” to help detect thyroid problems.