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Thyroid Cancer Facts, How to Do a Thyroid Neck Check

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month


Updated May 31, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Thyroid Cancer Statistics and Facts

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 56,460 new cases of thyroid cancer (43,210 in women, and 13,250 in men) will be diagnosed in the United States in 2012. The likelihood of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer has been on the rise, and is now more than double than in 1990.

An estimated 1,780 will die of thyroid cancer during 2012. Thyroid cancer is, however, considered one of the least deadly and most survivable cancers, and 5-year survival rates for thyroid cancer are almost 97%.

Thyroid cancer is more common in younger people, and nearly two-thirds of those diagnosed with thyroid cancer are between the ages of 20 and 55.

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. Many experts believe that the increase is primarily due to greater use of thyroid ultrasound technology, which is better able to detect previously malignant thyroid nodules that, in the past, likely went undetected. Some of the increased rate is, however, due to detection of an increasing number of larger thyroid tumors.

The Thyroid Neck Check

To underscore the importance of early detection, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) encourages Americans to perform a simple self-exam they call the "Thyroid Neck Check." Examining your neck can in some cases help you find lumps or enlargements in the neck that may point to thyroid conditions, including nodules, goiter and thyroid cancer.

To detect a thyroid abnormality early, or lumps that may indicate potential thyroid cancer, follow these steps to perform your own "Thyroid Neck Check:"

1. Stand in front of a mirror
2. Stretch neck back
3. Swallow water
4. Look for enlargement in neck (below the Adam's Apple, above the collar bone)
5. Feel area to confirm enlargement or bump
6. If any problem is detected, see an doctor

Note: The "Neck Check" is not conclusive. A thorough examination by a physician is needed to diagnose or rule out thyroid cancer.


National Cancer Institute -- Thyroid Cancer Page

What You Need to Know About Thyroid Cancer, National Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society: Thyroid Stastistics/Information

Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association (ThyCa)

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