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Blacks with Thyroid Cancer fare worse than whites

BY FELICIA VANCE
OF THE TRI-COUNTY SENTRY

(NNPA)- Blacks have fewer incidences of thyroid cancer but have a more advanced form of the disease once they receive a diagnosis — and are more likely to die from it.

The mortality rate is probably due to an access to care issues. It has been found that Blacks had a 1 percent higher mortality rate, though thyroid cancer is twice as common among whites.

In a recent study, Blacks were more likely to have tumors larger than four centimeters, which implies that the tumors sat there and grew a lot longer. The study also found they were more likely to present with anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is a fatal and advanced form of the disease, as opposed to papillary and medullary cancer, which are most common and easily treated.

How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?

Thyroid cancer may be diagnosed after a person goes to a doctor because of symptoms, or it might be found during a routine physical exam or other tests. If there is a reason to suspect you might have thyroid cancer, your doctor will use one or more tests to find out. Signs and symptoms might suggest you have thyroid cancer, but you will need tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer

Prompt attention to signs and symptoms is the best way to diagnose most thyroid cancers early. Thyroid cancer can cause any of the following signs or symptoms:

• A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly
• Swelling in the neck
• Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears
• Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
• Trouble swallowing
• Trouble breathing
• A constant cough that is not due to a cold

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions or even other cancers of the neck area. Thyroid nodules are common and are usually benign.

Medical history and physical exam

If you have any signs or symptoms that suggest you might have thyroid cancer, your health care professional will want to know your complete medical history. You will be asked questions about your possible risk factors, symptoms, and any other health problems or concerns. If someone in your family has had thyroid cancer (especially medullary thyroid cancer) or tumors called pheochromocytomas, it is important to tell your doctor, as you might be at high risk for this disease.

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