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BY: Dr. Erik Alexander
Thyroid cancer involves a cancerous growth in the thyroid gland. But unlike most cancers, thyroid cancer is on the rise, particularly among women. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there were 1787 thyroid cancer cases diagnosed overall in Australia in 2007 compared to just 859 new cases in 1997.
The disease is now in the top 10 cancers for both Australian and New Zealand women. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Much of the spike in detection is accidental.
We aren’t aware of any new hazard that causes thyroid cancer. More people are getting CT scans for other reasons, and that is how the cancer is often found. Risk factors for thyroid cancer include age (for those older than 40), family history, and exposure of the thyroid gland to radiation.
2. Dental X-rays are likely not a threat.
Although radiation in the head and neck increases your risk of thyroid cancer, dental X-rays contain an extremely low dose of radiation and generally focus on the jaw and teeth.
3. Women are more likely to have thyroid lumps.
A thyroid nodule is an abnormal growth of thyroid cells that forms a lump. But while nodules are more common among women, they tend to more often be cancerous in men.
4. Nine out of 10 thyroid lumps are not cancerous.
Usually, a thyroid lump is benign. But it still needs to be biopsied, just in case. If you notice a bulge in your neck or you have difficulty swallowing that persists for at least two weeks, see your doctor.
5. Treatment works.
If cancerous cells are found, the thyroid gland is removed via surgery, and patients must take thyroid replacement therapy, a daily pill, for the rest of their lives.
Should you worry about your own risk? Not if you’re proactive about your health. Here’s what to do to prevent thyroid cancer:
Worried about thyroid cancer? Comment below or connect with us @OralCareHealth (Australia & New Zealand)
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