September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month


I am a survivor of thyroid cancer. I was very fortunate in that when I was a Fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina, I attended an extracurricular seminar on ultrasound procedures. By the merest coincidence, one of the people being used as a patient did not show up that day. I volunteered to be a patient for an ultrasound and a nodule was found. Several days later, I had a fine needle biopsy done and it revealed cancer in an early form. Two operations later, I was “cancer free.”

However, my experience is completely not normal. If I had not attended that seminar, if I did not act on the nodule seen that day immediately, if I did not decide to have the second surgery and adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude, the outcome would have been different. Several years down the road (probably around 2021), I would have noticed a lump at the base of my throat. Even though I would be able to have an ultrasound and FNA quickly, things probably would have ended differently.

Thyroid cancer begins with cancerous cells originating in the thyroid gland or thyroid tissue. Fortunately, this cancer has a high rate of survival, resting near 97%. However, this does not mean it should be taken lightly. The most insidious aspect of thyroid cancer is its ability to spread to other systems and organs. Depending on the type of cancer, it can move aggressively to other regions in the body or more slowly.

As you can see, even though thyroid cancer is considered one of the least threatening forms of cancer a person may develop, it can irreparably damage your health.

Who Is At Risk?

Now that we are more familiar with the condition itself, your next step in greater thyroid cancer awareness is knowing the risk factors associated with it. Even though cancer is not fully understood there are various indicators that can warn you of greater thyroid cancer susceptibility.

If you are free of these risk factors, you have a notably lower risk of developing thyroid cancer. However, it does not mean that you are immune to this devastating illness. Knowing the signs of thyroid cancer, even if you do not possess an increased risk of developing it, may help you save the life of yourself and others.

Recognizing Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer doesn’t always have obvious symptoms. For this reason, it is important that you take responsibility of your thyroid and take the proper precautions. Being vigilant and watchful for the following symptoms can help you identify thyroid cancer early. Common symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

The most easily identifiable symptom of thyroid cancer is a lump, growth, or nodule in the neck. By conducting a simple check for yourself you may be able to detect this defining aspect. The following steps lay out an easily conducted self-examination for thyroid cancer.

Even though this method can catch thyroid cancer on occasion it cannot replace a doctor’s professional analysis and examination. It is important to regularly visit your doctor to acquire appropriate thyroid testing. If you have any issues, please make an appointment with us at Palmetto Endocrinology. We are ready to help.

Joseph W. Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph W. Mathews M.D., a board certified Endocrinologist and Medical Director of Palmetto Endocrinology, was born and raised in South Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the College of Charleston, Cum Laude. He then achieved his M.D. at the Medical University of South Carolina where he also completed his residency in Internal Medicine and a Fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. Dr. Mathews is also a Fellow of both the American College of Endocrinology and the American College of Physicians, holds an Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound (ECNU) and is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCD). He has extensive experience performing ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration biopsies. His practice includes a range of specializations including prescribing and fitting patients with insulin pumps. Dr. Mathews' practice has drawn patients from out of state to benefit from his expertise in thyroid disorders, diabetes, cortisol problems and their Endocrine disorders.

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