Between sleepless nights, rising child care costs and the risk of post-partum depression, expectant and new mothers have plenty to worry about. Unfortunately, recent studies show pregnancy may be linked to another concern: thyroid cancer.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland found in the neck that determines how quickly the body uses energy and controls the body's sensitivity to other hormones.
According to the National Institutes of Health, thyroid cancer - the second most common cancer in pregnancy - may be a result of more thyroid gland secretion during early pregnancy. Although thyroid cancer can affect anyone at any age, women over age 40 are most at risk.
Other factors include a family history of the disease and prior exposure of the thyroid gland to radiation.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
· Swollen lymph node(s) in your neck, or a lump that can be felt through the skin on your neck · difficulty speaking, changes to your voice, or increasing hoarseness
· Difficulty swallowing
· Pain in the throat or neck
Trying to manage thyroid cancer during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can be a little tricky for mom and baby. However, once thyroid cancer is detected and treated with surgery, hormones, radiation or chemotherapy, the 30-year survival rate is outstanding.
If you or your physician finds a thyroid nodule during a neck check, don't panic. Most thyroid nodules are benign. However, you should see a specialist for further testing.