Although the death rate from cancer in America is
down 25 percent since 1991, there is one type of cancer rapidly increasing in
the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of being
diagnosed with thyroid
cancer has tripled over the last three decades, making it the
The thyroid is a gland located in the front of the neck, shaped
like a butterfly. It produces hormones that enter the bloodstream and affect
the metabolism, heart, brain, muscles and liver, and keep the body functioning
properly and effectively.
The estimates for cases of thyroid cancer in
America for 2017 have increased, and rates are higher in women than men,
according to these figures published on cancer.org.
- In 2017, there will be an
estimated 56,870 new cases of thyroid cancer — 42,470 in women
and 14,400 in men.
- An estimated 2,010 deaths will
result from thyroid cancer — 1,090 in women and 920 in men. [The low death rate indicates that most
are treated for what truly isn’t a cancer]
Women account for nearly three-quarters of thyroid cancer cases.
The exact cause of most thyroid cancers is unknown. Research has concluded that
better imaging technology has increased the number of thyroid cancer cases
"Much of this rise appears to be the result of the
increased use of thyroid ultrasound, which can detect small thyroid nodules
that might not otherwise have been found in the past," the American Cancer
What are the signs or symptoms related to thyroid cancer? The
American Cancer Society lists the following on cancer.org:
- A lump in
sometimes growing quickly
- Swelling in the neck
- Pain in the front of the neck,
sometimes going up to the ears
- Hoarseness or other voice changes
that do not go away
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- A constant cough that is not due
to a cold
Talk with your doctor immediately if you have any of the signs
or symptoms associated with thyroid cancer. Noncancerous conditions or even
other cancers can also cause many of the symptoms.
How can you protect yourself?
Experts say most people found to have thyroid cancer have no
known risk factors, and so emphasize that most cases can not be prevented.
Professionals suggest regular self-exams to catch thyroid
changes in the earliest stages as one of the best means of protection.
Here are five steps to performing a self-exam from thyroidawareness.com:
- Hold a mirror in your hand,
focusing on the lower front area of your neck, above the collarbones and
below the voice box (larynx).
- While focusing on this area in the
mirror, tip your head back.
- Take a drink of water and swallow.
- As you swallow, look at your neck.
Check for any bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow.
Reminder: Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is located farther down the neck, closer to the
collarbone. You may want to repeat this process several times.
- If you see any bulges or
protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged
thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule that should be checked to determine
whether further evaluation is needed.
Health professionals estimate that 15 million Americans
have undiagnosed thyroid problems. The good news is that the survival
rate of thyroid cancer patients is higher than for most other
cancers. Early detection of thyroid cancer can open up more treatment
options. You can also ask your doctor to check your thyroid health with a thyroid-stimulating
test, a blood test that can determine whether the gland is