Thyroid cancer is being diagnosed more frequently, tripling the rate of diagnosis over the past 30 years. Equally as important as being aware of the prevalence of the diagnosis, is the ability to detect when you might have developed it in the first place.

Early detection is key to an optimal prognosis – and with cancer, time is a factor you don’t want to play around with. After all, time can be the difference between life and death.

Early detection of breast cancer is done by self-exam – something that most are aware of and familiar with. So, how can you detect cancers of the head and neck, such as with the thyroid? The short answer is that it’s not always as easy as feeling for lumps. But thanks to advancements in technology, education, and awareness of the condition, more and more people are preventing the diagnosis or detecting their conditions early enough to secure a promising prognosis.

That being said, the detection of thyroid cancer is approached with caution. Unlike some types of cancer, doctors are hesitant to encourage public screening for thyroid cancer. If public screenings were to be pursued, it’s likely that an increase in unnecessary treatment would occur as benign, non-cancerous nodules could easily be mistaken as a threat. This effort could lead to the overtreatment of patients who might not have ever been bothered by the growth to begin with.

More common in women, thyroid cancer is a slow progressing cancer. Because of this, health care providers typically prefer to treat thyroid cancer conservatively, preserving the quality of life of the patient by minimizing the side effects as much as possible.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Neck or head pain
  • Any new lumps or swelling in the neck region
  • Any other unusual symptoms you may have that are making you feel unwell

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important not to ignore them and to get checked by a medical professional as soon as possible.