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Thyroid Cancer Self-Check

The American Cancer Society lists thyroid cancer as one of the most common types of cancer, and women are more likely than men to develop the disease.

“The thyroid is an endocrine organ that sits at the base of the neck and secretes hormones that are responsible for maintaining one's metabolism,” Dr. Rachel Kilpatrick of Washington Regional Endocrinology Clinic explains.

“We estimate there will be about 52,000 cases of thyroid cancer each year.” However, many people may be unaware they have thyroid cancer.

“The most common sign of thyroid cancer is no sign at all, and most patients have no symptoms,” Dr. Kilpatrick says. She recommends performing a self-check for signs of thyroid cancer.

“The best way to identify thyroid cancer or something that might be concerning that should be evaluated by a doctor is actually by visual inspection so to stand in front of the mirror, and take a nice drink of water and you will look for the movement of the thyroid gland in your neck,” Dr. Kilpatrick says.

“There's a lobe on the right, and a lobe on the left. If you see an area that is more prominent when you swallow, that may be something you should have evaluated by a doctor.”

The American Cancer Society says other signs of thyroid cancer may include:

  • A lump or swelling in the neck
  • Hoarseness or other voice changes
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • A constant cough not caused by a cold
  • Pain in the front of the neck

Dr. Kilpatrick says if you think you have signs of thyroid cancer, contact your primary care provider for an appointment.