Doctor Oz did an episode of the Dr Oz Show on Thyroid Cancer, which is the fastest growing cancer in women. Thyoid Cancer preys on your throat silently for years before you catch it, but with Dr Oz’s Thyroid Cancer Self Exam, you can detect it before it is too late. 45,000 new cases of Thyroid Cancer are expected this year in America, and 3 out of 4 of these cases will be a woman. We are now twice as likely to get this cancer as we were in 1990. Dr Oz was joined by Dr. Carolyn Runowicz and Dr. James Lee, the director of the NY Thyroid Center, to discuss Thyroid Cancer.
Carolyn Runowicz told Dr Oz that there is an increase in women getting Thyroid Cancer, and the scary thing is that this cancer usually starts around the age of 30-60 years old, which is when a woman is having her period. There are estrogen receptors on your thyroid, so this might be a clue as to why women who are still menstruating are more likely to get Thyroid Cancer. Dr James Lee said that we are getting better at detecting this cancer faster and sooner, and the good news is that 80% of Thyroid Cancer is picked up in stage 1 and is mainly curable at this stage.
Your thyroid secretes a hormone that effects your metabolism, heart beat, body temperature and lots of basic functions of your body. A thyroid tumor can cause problems swallowing and you can sometimes see it bulging out of your neck. Dr Oz showed an example of a healthy thyroid with a windpipe that is flexible, which means that it can get crushed if you develop a tumor on your thyroid. Your thyroid is located underneath your Adam’s Apple and should feel mushy and soft, like other normal tissue. Then Dr Oz showed a thyroid that had cancer to show how the thyroid tissue is soft but the tumor is hard like a rock and will look like a big lump growing out of your neck.
Thyroid Cancer Symptoms
Dr James Lee said that typically people discover they could have thyroid cancer by going to a physician for a physical exam or when they look in the mirror. Sometimes it is also found as a thyroid nodule during an ultrasound. But here are some other symptoms of Thyroid Cancer that Dr Oz gave:
- Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing (it can feel like you are breathing through a straw)
- Lingering Cough Unrelated to a Cold
- Pain or Lump in Neck
- Swelling or Fullness in Neck
Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors
The two biggest risk factors for Thyroid Cancer are:
- Large doses of radiation therapy, especially as a child.
- Genetics – if your parents or sibling have had Thyroid Cancer
Dr Oz said that people who have more than 5 x-rays per year (even x-rays at your Dentist Office) have a four times greater risk of developing Thyroid Cancer.
Runowicz is a Breast Cancer Survivor and said that when you have breast cancer, one treatment is to remove the lump and then to receive radiation therapy. The problem, of course, is that radiation scatters to other parts of your body as well, so she is now very cautious about further exposure to radiation. You should always ask you doctor why you need to get x-rays, and if it is just to check your teeth for example, Dr Runowicz would not get the x-rays personally. If you do get x-rays, make sure to insist on not just a Lead Apron but a Thyroid Guard Lead Apron that covers your neck and thyroid to protect yourself. Dr Oz said that he would also recommend using these Thryoid Guard Lead Aprons when getting a mammogram. I have never seen a Thyroid Guard whenever I have had an x-ray, but I will be sure to insist on it going forward!