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Thyroid Cancer Awareness

Savor Health honors the men and women battling thyroid cancer and the many survivors who have overcome the disease.   According to the Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association, thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer in both men and women and is the most common endocrine cancer.  In 2012, about 56,460 people in the Unites States will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer [i].


Be Aware of the Symptoms

Thyroid cancer awareness begins with the knowledge of symptoms that should prompt medical attention.  If you feel a lump in your neck, this may be a thyroid nodule.  Although more than 95% of adult thyroid nodules are benign (non-cancerous), your doctor may want to examine it further.  Some people may also notice swelling of the lymph nodes, fullness in the neck, voice changes, difficulty breathing, and difficulty swallowing.

Risk factors for thyroid cancer can include exposure to large amounts of radiation during childhood, or radiation treatment to the head and neck area at a young age.  The cancer may not occur for 20 or more years after the exposure.  An exposure does not guarantee a future diagnosis and most thyroid cancer patients do not have an exposure history.  When discovered early, thyroid cancer is usually treatable; however some cancers are aggressive and difficult to treat.   Prognosis varies based on the type of cancer, tumor size, mestastases, and age.  Treatment for thyroid cancer can involve surgery, radioactive iodine ablation, thyroid hormone replacement therapy, external beam radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.


Nutritional Considerations for Thyroid Cancer

Nutritional consideration is given to those preparing for radioactive iodine treatment.  These patients will need to follow a short term low iodine diet (less than 50 micrograms per day) that involves the avoidance of iodized salt, sea salt, sea food, dairy products, egg yolks and whole eggs, bakery products with iodine-based dough conditioners, red dye #3, chocolate, soy products, iodine-containing supplements, and all foods supplements and medications that contain these ingredients.  For more information visit the American Thyroid Association and the Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association [ii].


[i] Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association.  http://www.thyca.org
[ii] American Thyroid Association http://www.thyroid.org


Jessica Iannotta, MS, RD, CSO, CDN

Jessica is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition (CSO). She studied nutrition at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. She obtained her Master's degree through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Jessica has worked in inpatient and outpatient oncology settings since 2001 in the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Jessica is in charge of all operations including clinical and culinary operations ranging from menu development to evidence-based website content, relationships with registered dietitians and social workers and developing processes and protocols for intake, management and outcomes analysis of patients.

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