January is Thyroid Awareness

What is a Thyroid Gland?


The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck just below your Adam’s apple. Your thyroid gland helps control the function of your body’s metabolism as well as function of many important organs, including your heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin.

            Thyroid dysfunction occurs when the thyroid gland produces either too much thyroid hormone, which causes your body’s systems to speed up – this is called hyperthyroidism; or too little thyroid hormone, which causes your body’s systems to slow down – this is called hypothyroidism, both negatively affecting your overall well-being.

What is Thyroid Cancer?


Thyroid cancer usually appears as a painless lump in the lower front of the neck. In most cases, the lump affects only one side of the neck. There are four main types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic. The vast majority of cases are either papillary or follicular.

What are the Risk Factors/Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer?


Several known risk factors have been identified such as external radiation to the head or neck, genetic predisposition and gender (a lump in a man’s neck is more likely to be cancerous than one in a woman’s neck.)

            Many patients with thyroid cancer have no symptoms whatsoever, and are found by chance to have a lump in the thyroid gland during a routine physical exam or an imaging study of the neck done for unrelated reasons such as a CT or MRI scan of the spine or chest. Other patients with thyroid cancer become aware of a gradually enlarging lump in the front portion of the neck which usually moves with swallowing. Occasionally, the lump may cause a feeling of pressure. Obviously, finding a lump in the neck should be brought to the attention of your physician, even in the absence of other symptoms.


10 Things about Thyroid Cancer/Disease you should know:

1. Up to 27 million Americans may be affected by thyroid disorders, although more than half remain undiagnosed.

2. Thyroid disorders are more common amongst women.

3. Thyroid disorders tend to run in the family.

4. Fatigue is a common complaint for under and over active thyroid conditions.

5. TSH testing is the most useful test for thyroid screening.

6. Regular checkups are the key to successfully managing a malfunctioning thyroid gland.

7. Changing brands and dosage that affect thyroid hormone levels should be followed by retesting.

8. Do not change your dose of thyroid medication without guidance from your physician.

9. Thyroid conditions in pregnancy warrant close attention.

10. Thyroid cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in America and one of the most curable.





**It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to prevent against Thyroid Cancer. Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center.**


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