Thyroid cancer is an increasingly common condition with studies showing that rates have tripled over the past 30 years. The condition is considered highly survivable but if it goes unrecognized or untreated mortality is nearly assured.
One of the best methods of combating thyroid cancer is through early detection. Unfortunately, markers of thyroid cancer can be challenging to spot if an individual does not know how to see them. Learning how to do a thyroid neck check and administering them periodically can help individuals identify thyroid cancer as early as possible. Continue reading to learn more about thyroid cancer and how to administer the simple and potentially lifesaving thyroid neck check.
A Quick Look at Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is malignancy that originates in the thyroid with potential to spread to other systems. Listed from most common and least threatening to rarest and most dangerous, the four strains of thyroid cancer are: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic. For the most part, symptoms of thyroid cancer remain consistent regardless of type. Symptoms may include hoarseness, difficulty breathing, coughing, and pain in the neck. The most common indicators of thyroid cancer are round growths on the neck near the thyroid. These thyroid nodules are often overlooked due to their small size. Fortunately, such growths can be identified through administering a simple thyroid neck check.
The 8 Simple Steps of an At Home Thyroid Neck Check
- Prepare to administer the test by getting a mirror (hand or wall-mounted) and a glass of water.
- Remove any clothing, jewelry, or other items that may obstruct vision of the neck.
- Sit or stand in front of the mirror, or hold a hand mirror, in such a way that you have clear vision of the neck.
- Take a sip of water and hold it in your mouth without swallowing.
- Tip your head back so that your nose is pointed towards the ceiling while your neck is stretched. Be sure to keep the neck in vision.
- While maintaining the stretched neck position, slowly swallow the water you previously placed in your mouth.
- While you swallow, look for any enlargements, lumps, bulging, or unexpected changes in neck appearance. Focus primarily on or around the thyroid gland, located below the larynx and Adam’s apple. You may also want to look for growths near the lymph nodes located near the top of the neck beneath the jaw. Repeat this step as many times as you feel necessary.
- Finally, use your hands to feel around the area of the thyroid and lymph nodes to inspect for bumps, growths, or protrusions. This may uncover bumps or abnormalities that are not be easily spotted through sight alone.
Don’t Neglect to Check!
Administering a thyroid neck check is a simple process but may lead to early recognition of thyroid cancer. If you see or feel a growth, swelling, or lump while administering the thyroid neck check follow up with a doctor so further testing can be done. If symptoms such as neck pain, changes in voice or hoarseness, difficulty breathing, and trouble swallowing are also present, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Protect yourself by remaining vigilant and administering the thyroid neck check on a regular basis.