HEALTHY LIVING: How a neck check could reveal a thyroid cancer diagnosis

Published on Monday, 20 September 2021 21:19
Written by Dr. Carrie Carsello

At the base of your neck is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits right over your airway – that’s your thyroid. Your thyroid is extremely important because it produces its own hormone, which affects our temperature, energy, heart rate and many other aspects of the human body.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 44,000 people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2021 – a large percentage of that number will be women. We are seeing an increase in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer and some of that is due to improved detection. The disease does affect women more than men.

There are several different symptoms associated with thyroid cancer, which some people may first notice on their own. Some of those symptoms include:

A lump or swelling in the lower part of the neck

Dry, unexplained cough

Difficulty swallowing

Changes in your voice

Sore throat that’s not getting better

Swollen glands

It’s important to note that having some of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have thyroid cancer – they could be from other underlying conditions. However, you should have it checked out. Your primary care physician should be doing a neck exam as well during checkups to ensure there’s nothing that needs further examination. There are also risk factors for thyroid cancer, such as family history and exposure to high doses of radiation.

If a mass or nodule is found in the neck and there’s cause for concern, the patient will undergo an ultrasound. We do have a classification system related to the ultrasound and based on the results we would do a biopsy or aspiration of the mass or nodule.

The treatment will depend on the type of thyroid cancer a patient is diagnosed with. The most common type is papillary thyroid cancer, which accounts for the majority of cases. Initial treatment usually involves a component of surgery and sometimes people need to be supplemented with thyroid hormone and certain people may also get radioactive iodine treatment.

Dr. Carrie Carsello is an endocrine surgeon with The Hospital of Central Connecticut. For more information, call 860.696.2040 or visit

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Monday, 20 September 2021 21:19. Updated: Monday, 20 September 2021 21:21.