Thyroid Disease Awareness

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 56,000 new cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. each year

SPEARFISH, S.D. – Women are more likely than men to have thyroid disease, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause. In fact, 1 in 8 women will develop thyroid problems during her lifetime.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism. Diseases of the thyroid cause it to make either too much or too little of the hormone.

Hyperthyroidism causes the thyroid to make more of the hormone than your body needs and shows symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, weight loss or feeling irritable. Hypothyroidism does just the opposite and may have you feeling tired or depressed, with a slower heart rate and weight gain.

Also of concern is thyroid cancer. Patients often find a lump in their neck and go to their primary physician with the concern.

Dr. Wesley Badger with Regional Health Spearfish Hospital says, “After someone has found a nodule, whether that be the primary doc that has felt that nodule or had an imaging study that identified it, it’s probably the most common way that people find thyroid nodules. A really small portion of those nodules are malignant, so not all these people need surgery; they just need somebody to talk with them and evaluate that nodule.”

Badger says the most common types of thyroid cancer are the most curable, but the incidence of the cancer has been on the rise for the past four decades and the reason could be two-fold.

“Mostly it’s because we’re finding it more commonly with incidental imaging studies but also that people are more in tune and coming to the primary doctors with any concerns that they have.”

Your doctor can diagnose thyroid disease by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. You can also examine your neck in the area of the Adam’s apple while you swallow. That can sometimes detect if your thyroid is enlarged by checking for any lumps or bulges.

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