September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, and survivors everywhere will be urging everyone to “Find It Early.”
Thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer among both men and women. It is estimated that more than 56,000 people will be newly diagnosed this year in the United States alone, and more than 200,000 worldwide. Thyroid cancer affects people of all ages, from young children to seniors. Thyroid cancer differs from many other cancers in that it is increasing in incidence. But, like most other cancers, thyroid cancer is usually treatable when detected early. However, some thyroid cancers are aggressive and difficult to treat.
During the month of September, ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, Inc. participants in more than 96 countries around the world will participate in the annual international grassroots effort to:
- raise awareness of the importance of early detection, treatment, and lifelong monitoring;
- inform the public about thyroid cancer and the free support services, resources, and educational events with experts;
- and increase awareness of the need for more thyroid cancer research.
ThyCa, sponsor of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, encourages people to ask for a neck check each time they visit their doctor. Signs to discuss with the physician include a lump or fullness in the neck, lymph node swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or voice changes. These are signs of a possible thyroid nodule. Most thyroid nodules are benign, but some are cancer.
“Health care professionals are essential to the detection of thyroid cancer,” says ThyCa Executive Director Gary Bloom of Olney, Maryland, himself a thyroid cancer survivor. “Done properly, a neck check can be as simple as touching the neck and watching the patient swallow. This can be done very quickly and won’t cause any delays for the medical office, but that 30 seconds could make all the difference in the world when it comes to diagnosing thyroid cancer.”
A few of the many grassroots activities that volunteers have organized:
- In Texas, a mother who is a survivor of thyroid cancer and her children are going to neighborhood pharmacies each weekend in September to give out wallet cards and Neck Check cards.
- In Virginia, a hospital staff member has developed a Thyroid Cancer Awareness Display.
- In Connecticut, a school staff member is giving materials to students and staff.
- Volunteers in more than 90 local ThyCa support groups in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, and Philippines, provide telephone and e-mail support and hold support group meetings.
- Around the world, thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers, and friends wear Neck Check shirts, wristbands, and pins, and give awareness materials to their friends and family.
Since 1995, ThyCa has been providing free support and information on thyroid cancer. Hundreds of pages of thyroid cancer information and free downloadable materials are available in English, Chinese, French, Japanese, and Spanish on ThyCa’s web site, http://www.thyca.org/.
On October 19-21, 2012, the 15th Annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference will take place in Chicago, Illinois, with more than 35 distinguished experts speaking.
Free materials and information are available from the nonprofit ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling toll free 1-877-588-7904, faxing to 1-630-604-6078, writing to ThyCa, PO Box 1545, New York, NY 10159-1545, or visiting our website.