Endocrine Surgery

About your Thyroid

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apples. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland influences the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.

Thyroid Cancer: Basic Facts

  1. Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine cancer.
  2. Thyroid cancer is a malignant tumor or growth originating within the thyroid glans. It is also called thyroid carcinoma.
  3. Thyroid cancer is one the of the few cancers that has increased in incidence over recent years. More than 48,000 people were newly diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the United Stated in 2011. More than 200,000 people were newly diagnosed worldwide in the same year.
  4. Thyroid cancer occurs in all age groups, from young children through seniors. About 2 of every 3 people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are between ages 20 and 55.
  5. Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men. More than 7 of 10 people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are female.
  6. The cause of most thyroid cancer is unknown.
  7. People have a higher chance of getting thyroid cancer if they were exposed to large amounts of radiation during childhood,or received radiation treatment for medical problems in the head and neck area at a young age. The cancer may not occur until 20 years or more after the radiation exposure. However, most people with such exposure do not get thyroid cancer, and most people with thyroid cancer did not have such exposure.
  8. The prognosis for any individual with thyroid cancer depends on several factors. These include the type of thyroid cancer, the tumor size, whether the disease has spread ( metastasized) to other parts of the body (especially distant sites), and the patients’ age at the time of diagnosis.
  9. Thyroid cancer is usually highly treatable when found early.

Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Surgery is generally the first and most common treatment for thyroid cancer. Sometimes it is the only treatment.

A surgeon will remove as much of the thyroid cancer as possible through one of the following operations:

Neck Check

An estimated 15 million of Americans have undiagnosed thyroid problems. To help with early detection and in some cases help you find lumps or enlargements in the neck that may point to a thyroid condition, you can perform a simple Neck Check self-exam. Here is a step-by-step guide.

All you will need is:

  • Handheld mirror
  • Glass of water
  1. Hold the mirror in your hand, focusing on the lower front area of your neck, above the collarbones, and below the voice box (larynx). Your thyroid gland is located in this area of your neck.
  2. While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back.
  3. Take a drink of water and swallow.
  4. As you swallow, look at your neck. Check for any bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow. Reminder: Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on your neck, closer to the collarbone. you may want to repeat this process several times.
  5. If you do see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule and should be checked to determine whether caner is present or if treatment for thyroid disease is needed.