The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ situated in the throat, near the trachea and larynx; its primary function is to produce and secrete hormones involved in our metabolism, or the process by which our bodies convert what we consume into energy.
According to the American Cancer Society, thyroid cancer is the most rapidly increasing cancer in the United States. In fact, its incidence has tripled in the last thirty years, and experts believe this is likely due to the fact that specialists are more frequently making use of the thyroid ultrasound, which is able to catch small thyroid nodules that weren’t detectable before.
The American Cancer Society predicts that in 2020, the United States will see almost 53,000 new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed by physicians. It also estimates that there will be more than 2,000 deaths due to thyroid cancer in 2020.
We have seen a slight increase in mortality rates for thyroid cancer between 2008 and 2017; this increase has been 0.6% per year, though these rates have seemed to have stabilized in more recent years.
In comparison to other adult cancers, thyroid cancer is more often diagnosed at a young age; additionally, women are three times more likely to develop the disease in comparison to men.
There are a number of signs you should look out for that could suggest that you have thyroid cancer, including:
- A hoarse voice
- Swollen glands in the neck
- A lump in the front of the neck, close to the Adam’s apple
- Pain in the neck or throat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- A persistent cough not caused by a cold
It’s important to note that these symptoms could also be due to other conditions; you should see a doctor as soon as possible if you present with any of the above signs.