You may or may not that know I am a thyroid cancer survivor. I was diagnosed when I was only 32, after months of not feeling like myself. I am grateful that I had such a great Primary Care Physician who noticed a pattern in my complaints & felt what turned out to be a thyroid nodule in my neck. September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, and so I’m sharing some common thyroid cancer facts, and reminding you to “check your neck” this month!
Thyroid Cancer is found in the thyroid gland, which is responsible for making hormones that help the body function. It’s more common in women than men, and usually between the ages of 25 and 65. It can be caused by radiation or radiation treatment for other medical problems, and some forms of thyroid cancer can be hereditary.
Thyroid Cancer often presents as a lump on the neck with no symptoms. Thyroid labs are often normal, even when thyroid cancer is present. This was the case for me, although I also un-knowingly had Hashimoto’s Disease and it was making me feel severely hypothyroid. Occasionally, thyroid cancer can cause neck pain or trouble swallowing. However, most of the time, a physician finds it during a neck exam.
There are four types of thyroid cancer: papillary (what I had), follicular, medullary, and anaplastic. The prognosis for thyroid cancer is generally very good, although it depends on the type of cancer, age at diagnosis, and stage of cancer. Treatment can include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Follow-up after treatment is also very important, in order to screen for potential recurrence and to maintain optimal thyroid hormone levels.
I still see my doctor for follow-up and perform my own neck checks regularly. Thyroid Cancer is often called “the good cancer” however, maintaining an optimal thyroid hormone level has been an on-going battle for me over the past 13 years. Only in the past few years have I finally found that my energy levels have felt “normal” and consistent. It’s been a struggle, and I’ve been through several doctors and medications in order to get here. Hopefully, sharing my story with others helps who may be feeling the same frustrations I felt.
Get a neck check this September!. You can find more information on how to perform a neck check at http://www.thyroidawareness.com/neck-check.