Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month is observed in September. The thyroid, a gland that produces hormones that regulates the body’s use of energy and ensuring normal functioning, is located in the front of the neck.

Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to grow in the thyroid.

The theme for Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month is ‘Find it Early’, underscoring the need to for early screening, diagnosis and prompt and appropriate treatment. Thyroid cancer has the dubious distinction of being the fastest growing cancer in the world today, with more than 200,000 new cases expected this year. It also shows no bias age-wise and everyone is at risk, both young and old. It is possible to successfully treat Thyroid Cancer if it is detected early. The most common types of Thyroid Cancer are papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, which also happen to be the most responsive to appropriate treatment. These varieties of Thyroid Cancer show a respectable 97% cure rate, especially among the young. Some forms of Thyroid Cancer can however prove aggressive and difficult to treat.

Thyroid Cancer Causes and Symptoms

Family history and exposure to radiation are considered possible causes for Thyroid Cancer. A lump or nodule in the neck, which may sometimes grow rapidly, is the most noticeable sign of this cancer. A general swelling of the neck, with pain along the front, is a further possible sign of Thyroid Cancer.    

Difficulty in swallowing and breathing are also associated with this disease. Further signs may include hoarseness of the voice and a persistent cough that is not cold-related. These symptoms may be entirely due to non-cancerous conditions. A visit to the doctor will settle this question and appropriate measures, where necessary, prescribed. As a matter of routine people are advised to request for a neck check every time they visit their doctor.

A neck lump or nodule is fortunately not easily ignored. A good proportion of Thyroid Cancer cases are identified when people notice these lumps and seek medical advice. Ultrasound tests for other health complications do occasionally stumble on Thyroid Cancer. Although most people respond very well to treatment, follow-up care for the rest of the patient’s life is recommended. This ensures that a recurrence can be spotted before it takes root and is also good for the patient’s peace of mind.

Activities during Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month will focus on the issues raised here. Survivors and health professionals are expected to be the main drivers of this initiative. Screening, diagnosis, treatment and outlook will be exhaustively dealt with in various forums across the world. Survivor stories are especially very powerful tools to get the message across to the general public and serve as a source of inspiration to anyone battling the disease.

Thyroid Cancer survivors, under the aegis of Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, individually and in other bodies, will participate in various activities in at least 96 countries in the world. The importance of early detection will be emphasised as will the need to inform the public about this fast-growing disease. The push for more enabling legislation and increased funding for further research into the disease are expected to also be high on the agenda.