Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that happens in the cell of the thyroid gland at the base of the neck. The thyroid produces body-regulating hormones, and this cancer can be aggressive and difficult to recognize.
Each September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, a time for promoting education and awareness around thyroid cancer and other thyroid-related diseases. Thyroid cancer affects 1 in 8 women, making it one of the most common forms of cancer for women. Additionally, it’s believed that more than half of the people in America who have a thyroid disorder are undiagnosed.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What's Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
- When Is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
- What Are the Colors of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
- What Can You Do to Acknowledge Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
What exactly is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month and how is this event observed yearly? In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about this cancer awareness month and how to get involved.
What’s Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
Though most people have heard of the thyroid, it’s common not to know much about it. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the windpipe in the neck. Though small, this gland does a lot for the human body. It regulates heart rate, body weight, temperature, cholesterol, hormones, and strength.
The term "thyroid disease" actually refers to multiple conditions. All of these are a part of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Thyroid disease commonly refers to both hyperthyroidism, or a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive, and hypothyroidism, where the gland doesn’t produce enough hormones.
In addition, Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month spreads awareness about thyroid cancer. This is when the cells in the thyroid form a tumor that often spreads throughout the body. There are actually 4 types of thyroid cancer:
- Papillary thyroid cancer: This is the most common of thyroid cancers, and it grows slowly but spreads through the neck.
- Follicular thyroid cancer: This form of cancer grows slowly, as well, near areas with high iodine deficiencies in the body.
- Medullary thyroid cancer: Though less common, this type is typically hereditary. It has a higher chance of spreading throughout the body.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Lastly, this is the rarest and most dangerous type of thyroid cancer that grows rapidly.
Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month is a period for spreading education, awareness, and fundraising initiatives around all types of thyroid cancer. It also includes other thyroid diseases in its initiatives. In other words, this is a time to help people understand and recognize the symptoms of thyroid problems.
By educating the public, not only can we support those who live with thyroid difficulties, but we can also encourage early treatment. Because these health issues above have few early symptoms, more widespread education is a must.
When Is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
The American Thyroid Association was founded in 1923. In these early days, initial research began to search for answers related to thyroid issues in the human body. Over the past century, the American Thyroid Association grew into a global professional medical society. Today, there are over 1,700 members across 70 countries.
Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month is a product of the American Thyroid Association. September is the month dedicated to raising awareness, fundraising, and advocating for early detection. The goal of this month, as well as the American Thyroid Association, is “Optimal Thyroid Health for All.”
Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month began in 2000. While it started as only a week to raise awareness, it quickly grew to a full month. Over 56 countries across the globe take part in observing Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month.
What Are the Colors of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
Cancer awareness ribbons are worn to support those affected by specific cancers while also raising awareness. There’s a different color for each specific type of cancer. For Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, supporters wear blue, pink, and teal ribbons.
The multiple colors symbolize the many diseases and cancers of the thyroid as well as the everlasting strength of those affected. These colors are chosen for a reason. Both feminine and inspiring, they’re a reminder that we are better when we’re together.
What Can You Do to Acknowledge Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month?
There are so many ways to get involved this Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. Whether you’re supporting someone you love through a diagnosis, helping your community, or just learning more about these diseases, it’s important to do what you can. Here are simple (and complex) things you can do to acknowledge Thyroid Cancer Awareness month this September.
One of the best ways to get involved during any type of cancer awareness event is to make a donation. Each donation, no matter how big or small, helps fund research toward treatment and a cure. An American Cancer Society donation is an easy way to make a real impact for all cancer research, but for something more specific, consider these organizations below:
- American Thyroid Association: This is the leading thyroid organization in the world helping improve research efforts and assist current patients.
- Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association: ThyCa is a collection of services and resources for current thyroid patients from thyroid cancer survivors.
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Dana-Farber is one of the leading cancer research centers in the world, and they do significant work with thyroid cancer specifically.
Share your story
If you or someone you know has a thyroid-related diagnosis, share your story. These stories are a powerful way to spread awareness in your own words. When people feel personally connected to a cause, they’re more likely to take positive action.
Post on social media
Another easy way to take action is to post on your social media profile. Posting an infographic, statistic, or other resources related to thyroid cancer might seem small, but it spreads awareness in your social circle. Share a free flyer, graphic, or information about local early testing.
Wear a ribbon
Cancer awareness ribbons are another important way to honor Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. By wearing a pink, blue, and teal ribbon, you subtly show your support. When you wear these colors, talk to those you meet about why they matter to you. Again, always share your story and your message. These ribbons also make perfect cancer memorial tattoos.
Volunteer in your community
There are always ways to get involved. No matter where you live, you can find a local organization to help. One great way to volunteer is to work with Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association. This nonprofit works with local communities to help current and past patients with a number of tasks.
Unfortunately, many have lost their lives to thyroid cancer and diseases. Whether you know someone personally affected or not, take time each September to honor these lives, learn their stories, and spread awareness in their honor.
Promote awareness materials
If you contact the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, they’ll mail you free educational materials. You can also download free flyers from their website. Once you’ve downloaded everything, place these items in visible places in your community like your community center, church, workplace, and so on.
Read or watch patient stories
Another great way to get involved is to walk in the footsteps of someone who experienced thyroid cancer firsthand. From films to books, these are the best way to find support whether you or a loved one receives a thyroid diagnosis.
The well-known film The Fault in Our Stars and the corresponding book by John Green follows the story of a 16-year-old girl with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs. Her story is powerful, and this is one of the most famous depictions of thyroid cancer.
For a memoir about living with cancer, Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad is highly recommended.
Learn the symptoms
If you do nothing else this September, take time to familiarize yourself with the early signs and symptoms of thyroid problems. Because there are few early signs, it can be difficult to notice if you or someone in your life experiences a thyroid-related problem. The more you understand about this tricky medical condition, the sooner you can seek treatment.
Attend a fundraising event
Lastly, take time this September to attend a local fundraising event in your community. These events bring people together for a common cause. Whether you donate or just participate, it’s important to show your support amongst those who fight together for change.
Fight Thyroid Cancer This September
As you can see, there is a lot to learn about thyroid cancer and the many diseases associated with the thyroid. No matter your understanding or personal experience, you can get involved in this force for good each September.
Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month is an important time for fundraising, education, and early treatment. Whether you talk to loved ones about symptoms, learn more yourself, or get involved on a community level, you’re taking steps towards a brighter future for all.