for Your Health
Thyroid cancer is on the rise, and exposure to radiation has been linked to an increase in incidences. But it’s vital to understand the connection between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer and how it might impact your health.
What Is Thyroid Cancer?
Thyroid cancer is an increasingly common cancer that starts in the thyroid, a gland located in the upper part of your neck that produces hormones controlling cell metabolism. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 56,870 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2020.
Radiation Exposure and Thyroid Cancer
Exposure to radiation is considered to be the most common risk factor for thyroid cancer. Sources of radiation can include nuclear power plant accidents, medical radiation exposure such as computed tomography (CT) scans, and diagnostic tests such as x-rays.
One of the more recent studies on radiation and thyroid cancer looked at people in the Fukushima region of Japan, who were exposed to radioactive fallout from a nuclear plant accident in 2011. The study found that those exposed to the highest levels of radiation had a greater than two-fold increase of developing thyroid cancer.
How You Can Reduce Your Risk
Reducing your risk for developing thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure is possible by taking certain precautionary steps. Most notably, limit your exposure to radiation, including getting x-rays, CT scans, and other diagnostic tests only when medically necessary. Additionally, it’s important to minimize your risk for other thyroid cancer risk factors that include genetics and iodine deficiency.
Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For
While there are typically no physical signs of thyroid cancer in its early stages, there are a variety of common symptoms you should look out for, including an enlarged thyroid, difficulty breathing and swallowing, pain in the neck and throat, and swollen lymph nodes.
It’s also important to note that many thyroid cancer symptoms can resemble those of other health problems, such as an inflamed throat caused by allergies. To be sure that you’re aware of any potential issues related to thyroid cancer, you should always consult a physician if you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
If you believe you may have been exposed to radiation or have any other concerns related to thyroid cancer, you should speak with your doctor. They can help evaluate your specific risk factors, answer any questions you may have and explain your options to more effectively monitor and manage your health.
Overall, the link between thyroid cancer and radiation exposure is an important area of focus for your health. Knowing the risk factors and symptoms associated with thyroid cancer can ensure you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your health.
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