Raising awareness for thyroid cancer

Amy Charles

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) joins the American Thyroid Association (ATA) in helping to raise awareness for this type of cancer.


This month also marks one year that PMC has offered a thyroid cancer support group for those recovering from or currently in treatment for the disease.


The ATA provides materials for support groups across the country. The support group is free and open to all survivors and their families and friends. In these groups, people share thyroid cancer information, their experiences with thyroid cancer and insights on how they are coping with thyroid cancer.


The Thyroid Cancer Support Group meets along with the Cure Blood Cancer (CBC) Support Group on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Leonard Lawson Cancer Center located at 172 S. Mayo Trail, Pikeville, KY 41501. The group is facilitated by Shirley Coleman, RN, PMC Oncology Outreach Coordinator.


"If you are a family member taking care of someone with thyroid cancer, if you have been diagnosed with or if you are a survivor of thyroid cancer, please come to the support group," said Coleman. "At the support group, members can share information and through their experiences, help one another answer questions about the specifics of the disease."


Thyroid cancer is found in the cells of the thyroid. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below your Adam's apple. This gland produces hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.


It is not clear what causes thyroid cancer.


According to Mayo Clinic, thyroid cancer occurs when cells in your thyroid undergo genetic changes (mutations). The mutations allow the cells to grow and multiply rapidly. The cells also lose the ability to die, as normal cells would. The accumulating abnormal thyroid cells form a tumor. The abnormal cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread throughout the body.


Although thyroid cancer isn't common in the United States, rates seem to be increasing. About 62,000 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year, with more women developing the disease than men. PMC had 15 new cases of thyroid cancer last year.


Most cases of thyroid cancer can be cured with treatment. Your thyroid cancer treatment options depend on the type and stage of your thyroid cancer, your overall health and your preferences.


For more information about the ATA, visit their website at thyroid.org. Visit pikevillehospital.org or call Shirley Coleman at 606-218-4843 for more information about the Thyroid Cancer Support Group.