September is thyroid cancer awareness month. Thyroid cancer is a growth of cells that begin in the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland in the base of the neck that looks like a butterfly. Its job is to produce hormones that take care of several functions of the body, such as heart rate, body temperature, and weight. People of all ages can develop thyroid cancer, but it is more common in women and the elderly.
There’s good news and bad news regarding thyroid cancer. The good news is that it is one of the more treatable forms of cancer with a high survival rate. The bad news is that thyroid cancer seems to be on the rise. A skilled nursing care at home provider can help you catch it. If your elderly parent starts to display any symptoms, you should bring her in to have her thyroid checked as quickly as possible. While it may not be life-threatening, thyroid cancer is still life-disrupting, expensive, and stressful for you and your loved ones.
While thyroid cancer often doesn’t have any symptoms in the beginning stages, some later symptoms may include:
- A lump or bump that can be felt through the skin on the neck. If you or your senior care provider notice your parent seems to have a lump developing on the side of her neck, it will be best to check it out.
- Your parent might complain about the collars of her shirts being too tight. What used to be comfortable may now feel too snug, as her neck has swollen up a bit. If your senior care provider has mentioned this to you, it might be that your parent needs more than just a new wardrobe.
- Sometimes the voice may be affected, and your parent might sound different when she talks. She may also sound a bit more hoarse than usual, like she’s got a sore throat. If your parent complains about difficulty
- swallowing, it could be that the cyst blocks her ability to swallow.
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes on the sides of your parent’s neck may start to bother her. If you see her taking her hands and rubbing the sides of her neck, ask questions about what’s going on and how her neck is feeling. She may not even think it’s anything more than a stiff neck.
- General pain in the throat and neck. Occasional neck pain may be the result of simply sleeping poorly, but if your parent wakes up each day and complains to you or someone who cares for her, like a senior care provider, it might be something a little more serious that needs to be looked into.
Most thyroid nodules will be benign, not cancerous, and usually, a fairly easy surgery can take care of the issue. Some are aggressive and can be hard to treat, so don’t hesitate when your elderly parent complains about neck or throat pain. Have her checked up immediately.