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January Is Thyroid Awareness Month

Mount Sinai Doctors Stress Importance of Early Detection and Announce Expansion of Thyroid Services in NYC

Newswise — (New York, NY – January 8, 2018) – January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and physicians from the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Mount Sinai Health System are emphasizing the importance of being aware of symptoms that may be related to thyroid disease.

The hormones produced by the thyroid gland (located in the front of the neck and under the voice box) help the body control the rate of metabolism, and regulate the production and consumption of energy. When thyroid function is accelerated, the condition is called hyperthyroidism; when slowed, it is called hypothyroidism. Imbalances in the thyroid function may be a result of environmental, autoimmune, or genetic factors. Additionally, thyroid issues may lead to cancer.

Thyroid disease affects roughly 200 million people worldwide, and thyroid cancer is on the rise, with nearly 57,000 new cases diagnosed in 2017, according to the American Cancer Association. Three out of four thyroid cancer diagnoses are made in women. Data from the American Thyroid Association shows that more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime, and the cause of these problems is largely unknown. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and up to 60 percent of them don’t know they have the condition, so they go undiagnosed and untreated. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid issues, and one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder. People with a family history of thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer, and exposure to high doses of radiation, are also at increased risk.

“Because the thyroid gland growth and function are under hormonal control, women are at a great risk of developing thyroid dysfunction and thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer often affects younger patients, and it is important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms,” says Ilya Likhterov, MD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Lumps or swelling in the neck may be thyroid nodules that, while not always cancerous, should be brought to the attention of your doctor. Pain in the center of the neck, new voice changes, or trouble swallowing or breathing can be symptoms of thyroid cancer and should be evaluated, especially if they persist.”

Thyroid Disease and Pregnancy

Pregnant women should be aware of changes to their thyroid gland, which can be affected by different levels of pregnancy hormones. The thyroid hormone greatly contributes to the development of a healthy baby, and it’s important that expecting mothers be properly diagnosed with and treated for thyroid disease. Otherwise, they could be at higher risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery, and their children may have developmental delays. For that reason, thyroid function is routinely checked in pregnant women.

When it comes to thyroid cancer, a large number of women develop this during their reproductive age. Since thyroid cancer tends to be mediated by hormones in the body, it tends to grow faster when patients are pregnant. There’s no special cancer screening recommendation for pregnant women.

New Screening GuidelinesThe American Thyroid Association does not recommend precautionary screening for patients who don’t have symptoms of thyroid disease or thyroid cancer. Over the last few years increased screening has contributed to over diagnosis and unnecessary interventions.

“It’s critical for people to be aware of the symptoms. Routine thyroid ultrasound should not be used for screening, as incidentally found nodules may lead to additional testing and even surgery. Ultrasound should be reserved for patients at increased risk of thyroid cancer (family history or significant radiation exposure), those presenting with new symptoms, and those with nodules found on other imaging modalities,” said Dr. Likhterov.

How to Perform a Thyroid Neck Self-Exam:

• Use a mirror and focus on the lower middle area of your neck, above the collarbones, and below the Adam’s apple (larynx). Your thyroid gland is located in this area of your neck.

• While focusing on this area in the mirror, tip your head back.• Take a drink of water and swallow.

• As you swallow, look at your neck. Check for any bulges or protrusions in this area when you swallow. Reminder: Don’t confuse the Adam’s apple with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located further down on your neck, closer to the collarbone. You may want to repeat this process several times.

• If you do see any bulges or protrusions in this area, see your physician. You may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a thyroid nodule and should be checked to determine whether cancer is present or if treatment for thyroid disease is needed.

Symptoms and Facts about Thyroid Disease

• Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid and hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid.

• Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are rapid weight loss, high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia.

• Symptoms of hypothyroidism are weak or slow heartbeat; muscular weakness; constant fatigue; weight gain; depression; slow reflexes; sensitivity to cold; thick, puffy, or dry skin; slowed mental processes and poor memory; and constipation.

• Goiter is another thyroid condition; it involves a visibly enlarged thyroid gland, often causing difficulty swallowing or breathing.

• Thyroid cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women.• The number of new cases of thyroid cancer is growing most rapidly among all cancers in both men and women, due to increased detection.

Mount Sinai Expands Thyroid Services to Brooklyn

The Head and Neck Institute at Mount Sinai in Manhattan has expanded its services to Mount Sinai Brooklyn. The new satellite office opened in November 2017 and provides comprehensive thyroid and head-and-neck cancer care. Doctors can diagnose, treat, and provide follow-up care to patients with thyroid cancer in one location. Dr. Likhterov, a Brooklyn native, is a Russian-speaking physician committed to serving the borough’s Russian community.

“There’s a large patient base in Brooklyn that deserves the highest level of expertise and quality of care. Traveling to other boroughs for medical expertise is burdensome, which often leads patients to put off appointments and delays diagnosis,” explains Dr. Likhterov. “My job is to be available for these patients to allow for problems to be caught early. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve the community I grew up in, and to provide the highest quality of care to patients in southern Brooklyn.”

All Head and Neck Institute at Mount Sinai locations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.

For more information on our different offices see the link below:

For more information on Mount Sinai Thyroid see the link below:

Patient Story

Dangerous Thyroid Nodule Toniann Santana, a single mother of three from Staten Island, is sharing her story to highlight the importance of paying attention to symptoms, hoping her experience will help save lives. “If you are a young woman and see a lump on your neck, get examined right away. Put yourself first and realize your health is too important to let things go and ignore what could be a dangerous and life-threatening health issue,” explains Ms. Santana.

This summer she found a lump on the left side of her neck, but thought it was an inflamed lymph node and assumed it would go away. More than a month later, the lump was still there and she had a low-grade fever, extreme fatigue, and body aches that lasted for three weeks. She went to a primary care doctor who tested her blood and results came back fine, but she had a feeling something wasn’t right and wanted answers. Ms. Santana then went to Mount Sinai Union Square where she was treated by Dr. Likhterov. She was diagnosed with a thyroid nodule, and biopsy was immediately performed. The result suggested that there was a significant risk of the nodule being cancerous and Dr. Likhterov removed half of Ms. Santana’s thyroid on November 9, 2017. Fortunately, the pathology tests came back negative for cancer and at this point she does not need further treatment.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest integrated delivery system encompassing seven hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai’s vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 10 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in four other specialties in the 2017-2018 “Best Hospitals” issue. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked in six out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology and 50th for Ear, Nose, and Throat, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally.

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