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September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

This year, thyroid cancer will strike over 44,000 adults in the U.S.

Your thyroid gland, located at the base of your neck, creates and produces hormones that play a role in many different systems throughout your body.

When discovered early, most forms of thyroid cancer are easily treatable and even curable. But if treatment is delayed, it can spread and be more difficult to manage.

According to ThyCa (Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association), thyroid cancer:

  • is increasing in incidence faster than any other cancer
  • can occur in children and adults
  • is twice as common in women than in men

What Causes Thyroid Cancer?

Most cases of thyroid cancer are not associated with any specific cause, although thyroid cancer can run in families and have a genetic cause or can be caused by high radiation exposure. Routine X-rays for medical tests do not cause thyroid cancer.

How is Thyroid Cancer Detected?

Thyroid cancer is usually detected by finding a nodule in the thyroid gland.  The good news is that most thyroid nodules are benign (not cancerous) and may not need any treatment. A nodule may be detected by your doctor when you have your regular check up, or you might notice a new lump in the front of your neck.  Also, thyroid nodules may be detected when radiology imaging studies are done for other reasons.

The key is early detection.  It is important for your doctor to examine your thyroid gland every year and to see your doctor if you notice a lump in your neck.

Further evaluation of thyroid nodules usually involves an ultrasound exam and may also include a biopsy called a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA). Treatment depends on the results of these tests. No further treatment may be needed and close follow up by repeating an ultrasound after several months or a year may be appropriate, or surgery may be recommended.

What’s the Prognosis?

Excellent, actually. Especially if it’s caught early.

In general, the treatment is surgical: find and remove the cancer before it spreads elsewhere and survival rates for patients are extremely high, according to the American Cancer Society.

How can Austin Surgeons Help?

At Austin Surgeons, we are experts in the evaluation and treatment of thyroid nodules, including FNA biopsies and surgery. We perform FNA biopsies with the Afirma Genomic Sequencing Classifier to help determine if a thyroid nodule is malignant. If the biopsy is suspicious or malignant, thyroid surgery is recommended. If the cells are benign, then surgery may not be necessary.

Surgery may include total thyroidectomy (removal of the entire thyroid gland) or lobectomy (removal of one side of the thyroid). Our surgeons will explain the process of surgery very carefully, including the expected recovery and the risks of the operation.

To learn more about thyroid cancer surgery or to make an appointment, visit or call 512-467-7151.

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