Thyroid Cancer Awareness is an important cause as I have dedicated my career to the surgical treatment of patients with thyroid cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that in 2009 there will be 37,200 new cases of thyroid cancer (27,200 in women, and 10,000 in men) with an estimated 1,630 deaths. That’s up from 33,550 in 2007, making it a 10% increase in just 2 years. Thyroid cancer is, however, considered one of the least deadly and most survivable cancers, and 5-year survival rates for most thyroid cancers is around 97%. The reason for this excellent rate of survival is primarily due to having thyroid surgery by expert thyroid surgeons including myself.
Thyroid cancer is one of the few cancers on the rise in recent years, with a growth rate of about 6% a year since 1997. Most experts and I believe that this increase is primarily due to a greater use of advanced imaging techniques such as CT, MRI and ultrasound, which often will identify asymptomatic thyroid nodules earlier which after further workup are deemed to be cancerous and treated accordingly.
As such September is designated as Thyroid Cancer Awareness month and to commemorate the month I will lead various discussions and community programs to educate the public throughout the month. I also recommend patients to consider an annual self exam or “thyroid check” by standing in front of the mirror and feeling for any lumps or bumps along the central lower neck that present with swallowing. If anything abnormal is felt, then you should consult your doctor for a full and complete examination.
Alen N. Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.S.