September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Here are 10 facts you may not know about the thyroid and thyroid cancer:
- The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly, and it is located at the base of the neck.
- The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system.
- The thyroid’s main function is to control your metabolism your body’s ability to break down food and turn it into energy.
- There are four types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic.
- An endocrinologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the endocrine system, so thyroid cancer survivors usually have an endocrinologist as part of their healthcare team.
- Cancer survivors who undergo a thyroidectomy (the removal of the thyroid gland) for treatment have to take thyroid hormone pills daily.
- Radioactive iodine treatment is a common treatment for thyroid cancer. Your thyroid gland absorbs pretty much all of the iodine in your body. When radioactive iodine is taken in liquid or capsule form, it concentrates in thyroid cells. The radiation can destroy the cancer cells in thyroid gland along with the gland itself, and any other thyroid cells that take up iodine.
- Radioactive iodine treatment can cause dry mouth as a side effect from the salivary gland not working properly. Thyroid cancer survivors who experience dry mouth have to practice excellent mouth care to protect their teeth. Saliva helps keep teeth clean and healthy, so without enough saliva, your teeth are at higher risk for cavities and other dental issues.
- The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 62,450 cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed in the United States this year.
- The thyroid cancer awareness ribbon is teal, pink, and blue.
Bonus: In The Fault in Our Stars, the main character, Hazel, is a thyroid cancer survivor.