Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Check Your Neck!

For years women have been inundated with campaigns for breast cancer awareness, and prompted to do monthly self checks for signs of breast cancer. Thyroid cancer and thyroid disease in general has not been given as much a view, even though if you read studies on it, in the US alone the incidences are rising rapidly, especially among women. Average onset is between the ages of 35-50, but in rare cases such as my own it can begin in your 20's.

Thyroid disease manifests itself in many different ways, and the older you get, the more likely it is for you to have it. Some common symptoms include:
Weight Changes
Anxiety and/or Depression
Muscle and Joint Weakness or Pain
Sensitivity to temperature
Voice Changes (This is more serious, as it is a common indicator of nodules and thyroid cancer)

I myself experienced many of the symptoms listed for months. I was tested for everything under the sun over a period of about 6 months but other than a severe Vitamin D deficiency they had trouble pinpointing the cause. I began gaining weight, even with no changes in my diet, going from being average and healthy to severely overweight within an 18month period. I was exhausted and in pain every day and could no longer even do small tasks around the house easily. I had exen been diagnosed with a panic disorder, because my anxiety symptoms were quite extreme. I also experienced a sudden deepening and hoarseness in my voice in the months leading up to my diagnoses.

I was one morning, rubbing my neck in the morning that I noticed a very distinguished bump in my neck, and when I checked the mirror I could visibly see it, as could my doctor when I visited her later n the week.

So especially for the ladies reading, you should consider in addition to your self exams for breast cancer, to also check your neck every month. Your thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland in the base of your neck, so when these nodules or masses start to grow you can feel them. Most are benign, and cause no problems, but if you are having the symptoms, and you do notice changes in your neck, go see your doctor, because while rare, early treatment is key to successfully being treated for thyroid cancer.

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