Be sure to talk with your doctor about thyroid cancer screenings every September, and make sure your family members are too!

The best care is preventive care. When it comes to thyroid cancer, this is especially true.

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month is meant to educate the public and healthcare professionals about the importance of routine thyroid screenings. With early detection, people can begin treatment early, which is most effective for managing this type of cancer.

Keep reading to learn more about protecting your loved ones and yourself from thyroid cancer.

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month occurs every September in the United States. It’s different than World Thyroid Day, which is observed globally on May 25.

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month emphasizes the importance of screenings for people with symptoms, as many forms of thyroid cancer can be treated and managed if caught early.

More importantly, the month focuses on educating the public and healthcare professionals alike on the following principles:

  • Finding it early: People should prioritize routine thyroid screenings, as early detection can help those with thyroid cancer seek treatment early and often receive better health outcomes.
  • Continuing treatment research: While many forms of thyroid cancer can be treated if caught early, more research is needed to find effective treatments for rare types.
  • Building a community: This point looks to foster connection with healthcare professionals and their patients. This point speaks to building community with support groups, fundraising events for further research, and educational events to increase knowledge among healthcare professionals.

What color ribbon is used for Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?

The Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month ribbon is pink, blue, and teal.

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The severity of how thyroid cancer will affect a person’s body depends on the type of cancer that develops. Papillary cancer is the most common form but also tends to be the least lethal. Even in cases where cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, treatment can still be effective. Papillary cancer has a low rate of mortality.

Age at diagnosis, the size and cell type of the tumor, how quickly the tumor is growing, and available treatment options can all affect a person’s outlook.

Follicular cancer tends to be more common in populations with a higher risk of iodine deficiency, such as developing countries with limited access to iodine-rich foods. Like papillary cancer, follicular cancer grows slowly and is treatable. In advanced stages, it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones or lungs, but it rarely spreads to the lymph nodes.

Compared with papillary and follicular cancer, medullary cancer can be harder to diagnose. This also makes it difficult to treat. This type of cancer may be more advanced by the time it is discovered, given its tendency to spread quickly to other parts of the body.

Likewise, anaplastic cancer, a rare and aggressive type of thyroid cancer, can spread quickly to other areas of the body. It is typically caught and diagnosed at advanced stages and can be difficult to treat.

While a lump or swelling in the neck is usually the first sign of any type of thyroid cancer, other symptoms can include:

  • pain in the front of the neck
  • hoarseness or changes in the voice that do not go away
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • a constant cough without the presence of a cold or illness

What are the chances of developing thyroid cancer?

In most cases, a person’s risk of developing thyroid cancer depends on a few risk factors. Specifically, people that have been exposed to radiation or have a family history of thyroid issues have a higher risk.

According to the American Cancer Society, women are diagnosed with thyroid cancer three times more often than men.

Having an enlarged thyroid doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has thyroid cancer. Most of the lumps found during a thyroid screening are benign, or noncancerous. Still, it’s important to have them reviewed to make sure they don’t develop into cancer.

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As with any health-focused awareness month, education is key.

If you have a thyroid condition, make sure that your endocrinologist performs routine thyroid screenings to check for any abnormalities that might require additional review. A simple thyroid screening is noninvasive and only requires your doctor to examine your throat with their hands to feel for any masses.

Encourage your friends and loved ones to also engage in routine thyroid screenings, even if they do not have a family history.

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor for further evaluation.

If there are no advocacy groups or initiatives encouraging regular thyroid screenings in your area or offering support to those with thyroid cancer, consider starting one. You can also reach out to the Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association to find more ways to show your support.

Get involved in the search for a cure

If you want to help clinical researchers find more effective treatments and a cure for thyroid cancer, visit to learn which trials are currently looking for participants.

Make sure to discuss participation in any trial with your doctor, especially if it will affect your ongoing thyroid treatments.

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When caught early, most forms of thyroid cancer are treatable. Preventive measures like undergoing routine thyroid screenings are important for this reason.

Routine screenings may be especially important if you currently have a thyroid condition, a family history of thyroid conditions or cancers, or have been exposed to radiation.

Even though Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month occurs every September, don’t wait until the fall to prioritize your thyroid health.