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Let’s talk about thyroid cancer

In Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, we look at the symptoms, stats and treatments for thyroid cancer.

It's Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month in September and we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the stats and symptoms in case they’re helpful to anyone reading. We are not doctors, and all of this information is in the public domain, but if we hope that in sharing it, it could help someone to get a diagnosis a little earlier.

Thyroid cancer statistics

Cancer Research UK reports that there are around 3,900 new thyroid cancer cases in the UK every year, making it the 20th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 1% of all new cancer cases. They estimate that around 9% of cases are preventable and it is most common in people aged 65 to 69 years old. Over the last decade, thyroid cancer incidence rates have increased by around two-thirds, however survival rates are high. They say almost 9 in 10 (87.4%) of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer in England survive their disease for five years or more (2013-2017).

Ref: Cancer Research UK

Thyroid cancer symptoms

The most common symptom of thyroid cancer according to the NHS is a painless lump or swelling low down in the front of the neck (however, only around 1 in every 20 neck lumps are cancer.) Warning signs are if the lump feels firm, does not move around easily under the skin or gets bigger over time.

Other symptoms include:

  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Unexplained hoarseness that does not get better after a few weeks
  • A sore throat that does not get better
  • Pain in your neck
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

Ref: NHS

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Typical treatments for thyroid cancer

The treatment you may receive for different types of thyroid cancer depends on the stage and type of cancer that you have. However, it usually involves either one or a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Treatment plans usually include a thyroidectomy – surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid. Radioactive iodine treatment, where you swallow the drug is also used to attack cancer cells. External radiotherapy may be used, where beams are directed at the cancer cells. Chemotherapy and other targeted medications are also sometimes used.

Spa treatments and your cancer journey

All cancer treatments have their side effects that doctors will be able to offer advice on.

From our perspective, spas are certainly not going to fix all problems, but with properly trained spa therapists and the right products, they can help to ease some side effects of cancer treatments and to provide support on your cancer journey.

For example, the right type of massage has been shown to help ease pain, improve mood and help with sleeplessness. Meanwhile, products from brands like Jennifer Young help to ease some of the skincare side effects of cancer treatment.

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If you would like to find out more about spas where therapists are trained to provide the best support on your cancer journey, you can follow the link to our Safe Hands for Cancer experiences, or read more articles on this blog.

Read more about cancer support in UK spas

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