September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Austin’s leading thyroid and parathyroid expert, Dr. Teresa Kroeker is advocating for Central Texas residents to get a neck check, and then get the facts about thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer diagnoses–the eighth most common cancer in the US–have risen significantly. According to The American Cancer Society,
estimates for cancer in the US for 2019 are about 52,070 new cases of thyroid cancer (37,810 in women and 14,260 in men).
Women 25-65 years of age are mostly affected. When found early, thyroid cancer is usually treatable. Because of the high survival rate, thyroid cancer is
sometimes referred to as a “good” cancer.
Thyroid Cancer Facts
• Most common endocrine cancer
• Occurs in all ages, children through seniors
• No symptoms in early stage
• About two out of every three people diagnosed are between ages 20 and 55
It’s important for patients to know that some thyroid cancers are aggressive and difficult to treat. Even when treatable, thyroid cancer can be life-disrupting, costly, and stressful for patients and caregivers. It also requires taking daily medication for thyroid hormone replacement for the rest
of a patient’s life. For these and other reasons, according to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association, thyroid cancer should not be considered a “good” cancer. No cancer should. Early diagnosis is key.
Some patients have been fortunate to detect their own symptoms by doing a neck check self-exam, as illustrated in the infographic below. However, the best plan is for patients to ask for a neck check at their next visit with their primary care physician, gynecologist or other healthcare provider. If protrusions or suspected nodules are discovered, you may need to be referred to a surgeon for evaluation.
Once diagnosed, the mainstay of treatment for thyroid cancer continues to be surgery.