World Thyroid Day is a significant day dedicated to raising awareness about thyroid diseases and the burden they place on individuals and healthcare systems worldwide.
This day is celebrated on May 25 every year, and it serves as a reminder to the public and medical professionals about the importance of understanding and treating thyroid illnesses.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a small gland located at the base of the neck. It is essential for regulating metabolism, growth, and development, as well as our tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and even our mood.
It affects, directly or indirectly, almost every function in our bodies: our temperature, our digestive system, and our mental development.
However, thyroid diseases can cause the gland to produce too much or too little of these hormones, leading to a range of health problems.
One of the leading experts in thyroid health management is Dr Justus Apffelstaedt, a specialist surgeon with a keen interest in breast, thyroid, and parathyroid health management.
According to Dr Apffelstaedt, many South Africans are still unaware of what the thyroid is, let alone the impact of thyroid cancer. This lack of awareness makes it challenging for individuals to detect and diagnose thyroid diseases early, which can significantly affect their chances of recovery.
“The importance of early detection and diagnosis cannot be overstated. Thyroid cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancers globally, and it affects people of all ages and genders. Early detection and diagnosis can increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery.”
World Thyroid Day is an opportunity to educate the public about thyroid diseases and the importance of regular check-ups and early detection. It is also a day to recognise healthcare professionals who are committed to the international study and treatment of thyroid diseases.
Dr Apffelstaed further explains that common thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism seldom lead to cancer and are typically manageable with proper care. However, he cautions that thyroid cancer, while rare, is still classified among the more prevalent types of cancer.
The good news is that early detection of thyroid cancer results in a high survival rate, particularly when the patient is diagnosed early.
What are the symptoms to be on the lookout for of thyroid cancer?
Symptoms vary, however some of the symptoms can be fairly generic and include the:
- The appearance of a lump in the neck.
- Pain in the neck and throat.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- A persistent cough not linked to a cold.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Pain and difficulty swallowing.
- The appearance of a lump or growth in the neck.
- Constant voice changes and hoarseness.
It's crucial to remember that while the signs and symptoms previously mentioned may not always be a direct result of thyroid cancer, seeking medical advice is highly recommended advised Dr Apffelstaedt
If your doctor determines that the symptoms require further investigation, you will likely be referred to a specialist for a more accurate diagnosis and an assessment of the appropriate treatment plan.
“Remember, early detection of thyroid cancer is key to ensuring a positive prognosis, so never hesitate to speak with your doctor about any abnormal symptoms you may experience.”
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