Dr Oz: Thyroid Cancer: Fastest Growing Cancer in Women

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Dr Oz: Thyroid Cancer: Fastest Growing Cancer in Women

By on September 28, 2010

Doctor Oz did an episode of the Dr Oz Show on Thyroid Cancer, which is the fastest growing cancer in women.  Thyoid Cancer preys on your throat silently for years before you catch it, but with Dr Oz’s Thyroid Cancer Self Exam, you can detect it before it is too late.  45,000 new cases of Thyroid Cancer are expected this year in America, and 3 out of 4 of these cases will be a woman.  We are now twice as likely to get this cancer as we were in 1990.  Dr Oz was joined by Dr. Carolyn Runowicz and Dr. James Lee, the director of the NY Thyroid Center, to discuss Thyroid Cancer.  Doctor Oz: Thyroid Cancer

Carolyn Runowicz told Dr Oz that there is an increase in women getting Thyroid Cancer, and the scary thing is that this cancer usually starts around the age of 30-60 years old, which is when a woman is having her period.  There are estrogen receptors on your thyroid, so this might be a clue as to why women who are still menstruating are more likely to get Thyroid Cancer.  Dr James Lee said that we are getting better at detecting this cancer faster and sooner, and the good news is that 80% of Thyroid Cancer is picked up in stage 1 and is mainly curable at this stage.

Your thyroid secretes a hormone that effects your metabolism, heart beat, body temperature and lots of basic functions of your body.  A thyroid tumor can cause problems swallowing and you can sometimes see it bulging out of your neck.  Dr Oz showed an example of a healthy thyroid with a windpipe that is flexible, which means that it can get crushed if you develop a tumor on your thyroid.  Your thyroid is located underneath your Adam’s Apple and should feel mushy and soft, like other normal tissue.  Then Dr Oz showed a thyroid that had cancer to show how the thyroid tissue is soft but the tumor is hard like a rock and will look like a big lump growing out of your neck.

Thyroid Cancer Symptoms

Dr James Lee said that typically people discover they could have thyroid cancer by going to a physician for a physical exam or when they look in the mirror.  Sometimes it is also found as a thyroid nodule during an ultrasound.  But here are some other symptoms of Thyroid Cancer that Dr Oz gave:

– Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing (it can feel like you are breathing through a straw)

– Hoarseness

– Lingering Cough Unrelated to a Cold

– Pain or Lump in Neck

– Swelling or Fullness in Neck

Thyroid Cancer Risk Factors

The two biggest risk factors for Thyroid Cancer are:

– Large doses of radiation therapy, especially as a child.

– Genetics – if your parents or sibling have had Thyroid Cancer

Dr Oz said that people who have more than 5 x-rays per year (even x-rays at your Dentist Office) have a four times greater risk of developing Thyroid Cancer.

Runowicz is a Breast Cancer Survivor and said that when you  have breast cancer, one treatment is to remove the lump and then to receive radiation therapy.  The problem, of course, is that radiation scatters to other parts of your body as well, so she is now very cautious about further exposure to radiation.  You should always ask you doctor why you need to get x-rays, and if it is just to check your teeth for example, Dr Runowicz would not get the x-rays personally.  If you do get x-rays, make sure to insist on not just a Lead Apron but a Thyroid Guard Lead Apron that covers your neck and thyroid to protect yourself.  Dr Oz said that he would also recommend using these Thryoid Guard Lead Aprons when getting a mammogram.  I have never seen a Thyroid Guard whenever I have had an x-ray, but I will be sure to insist on it going forward!

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Comments to Dr Oz: Thyroid Cancer: Fastest Growing Cancer in Women

  1. cynthia coronado says:

    I had a stage 5 follicular cancer, which was totally removed.The cancer doctor does an I 131 each year.Everytime I have to go hypothyroid & gain15 to 20 lbs. My vocal chord was damaged also.My question is “how do I get all this weight off”? Since the thyroidectomy everything seems to be falling apart. I have always been a health fanatic,but now I’m fat my joints are damaged,and I am huffing & puffing just going downstairs to do laundry. What happened to my life as I knew it?

  2. This is the response that we had to that episode. We sent this email to Dr. Oz the week of the show. We never heard a thing…

    Dear Dr. Oz:
    Imagine our surprise when a patient called yesterday nearly hysterical concerning dental xrays because she had watched your show. She called to tell us she never wanted her family to have xrays again because you said that 5 xrays a year are dangerous and to find out if we had been using thyroid shields. We were able to assure her that we have used thyroid shields for years and years. However, we didn’t know what she was talking about regarding 5 xrays being dangerous.

    When I got home I watched the show on thyroid cancer. I was disappointed that you cited that study in the way that you did. I was shocked by the female doctor you had on the show when she said that she would question the doctor about the necessity of xrays and “if it was just to check your teeth” she wouldn’t have them. WOW! Thank you, Dr. Oz! What a disservice you have done to your viewers’ dental health. I would hazard a guess that she has never had the pain of an infected tooth in need of root canal therapy. We check teeth with xrays to discover hidden decay so that we can remove it before it reaches the pulp and causes the patient to need root canal therapy or have the tooth extracted. A visual exam of a person’s teeth doesn’t tell us much. I’d say I’m only seeing about 25% of the story when I am limited to a visual exam. That was totally irresponsible of that doctor to discount dental xrays the way she did and it was irresponsible of you to allow that to be said without having a dentist on the show to give some perspective to the segment.

    Before I watched the show I looked online to see if there was new information about dental xrays and thyroid cancer. I found the study that was published this year and read the abstract. While you state on the show that it was a large study, in fact, it was a study of only 313 people in Kuwait with thyroid cancer and a “similar” number of control people. They said the results of their study “should be treated with caution because the data were necessarily based on self-reporting by the participants. Comprehensive historical dental x-ray records were not available from the clinics.” You did not treat this study with any caution at all when you reported it on your show. You treated it as cold, hard fact.

    As a “self-reporting” study we know nothing about the frequency of xrays, the actual number of xrays taken, the dose of radiation per xray, the speed of the film, the quality of the machines used on these patients, etc., etc. Incidentally, Kuwait has an abnormally high incidence of thyroid cancer. Where was this information in your show? I guess it was just better TV to tell people that dental xrays give you thyroid cancer rather than give them the facts.

    The Health Physics Society as well as the American Dental Association report that a full series (18 xrays) of dental xrays exposes a patient to 1 -1.5 mrems. 4 bitewing xrays expose a patient to .2 -.3 mrems. So how does that compare to other forms of exposure? Did you know that cooking with natural gas exposes a person to 10 mrems of radiation per year? Or how about sleeping next to someone 2 mrems/yr; smoke detectors < 1 mrem/yr; brick houses 10 mrem/yr; one cross country flight 4-5 mrem; reading a book 3 hours a day 1 mrem/yr; chest xray 10 mrem ; smoking 1.5 packs a day 1300mrem. In fact, the average American receives 360 mrem per year just from naturally occurring radiation from outerspace, the earth, and foods we eat.

    The dental profession has known for many years to protect the thyroid. It is good to have patients aware that their dentist should use lead aprons with a thyroid shield, but it is wrong to unnecessarily scare people about routine dental treatment.

    I would like to know if patients refuse their xrays because of your show should I refer them to you for their dental work when they have problems that I am not able to evaluate as a result of not having the diagnostic information provided by dental xrays?

    My wife has been a fan of yours for many years. We have all of the You books on our bookshelf. She went to your breakout session at the California Women’s Conference last year and came home enthused about the information she received. After watching your show about dental xrays and thryroid cancer she said she now knows to take your advice with a grain of salt and do more research and verification of information you disseminate.

    So here we go again — another attack on the dental profession. It seems every couple of years the media likes to caution everyone about going to the dentist. This time you are responsible for the attack. Thanks, Dr. Oz.
    Bradford Boyd, DDS
    Georgetown University Dental School ‘82
    UC Berkeley ‘75

  3. I was surprised that no mention was made of the increase in SOY intake by mostly women since the 1990’s – the same time period when the increase in thyroid cancer in women jumped according to the study Dr. Oz quoted on this show. Many soy-containing products are very damaging to the thyroid and make hypothyroidism worse. I’ve even read that soy-containing products can cause hypothyroidsm (and unexplained weight gain) in people who previously were NOT even pothyroid. During the entire segment, neither Dr. Oz nor either of his two notable guests mentioned the correlation between soy intake and thyroid issues or even uttered the word “soy.” It’s also mainly WOMEN who started ingesting large amounts of soy when it became a popularized alternative form of protein to red meat. Then the “health” industry started putting soy, soy lecithin, soy isoflavones, into all kinds of “nutritonal” products. I wonder if Dr. Oz is in the pocket of producers and distributors of soy-containing products, such as “diet” and “healthy” nutriton bars.

    BTW, the only reason red meat is dangerous is because of what mankind puts into cattle’s feed: bovine hormones. IF you choose hormone-free beef, the dangers of red meat disappear. Drop the soy, go back to beef, but choose hormone-free, or at least choose lean cuts and cut off visible fat prior to cooking. You see, these bovine hormones tend to be attracted to and collect in the fatty portions of the beef. That’s the REAL reason doctors and nutritionists tell us to eat lean meats, because they apparently don’t want to discuss the bovine hormone issue that causes red meat to be unhealthy. This might also explain why some people on the Atkins Diet had limited success, because they weren’t informed about the bovine hormones in beef that were thwarting their efforts. Evidently Atkins is seeing a new popularity, but this time people are being smart about hormone-free meat and dairy, as well as nitrite-free meats.

    Even when we look at veggies, many of us are doomed to ingest pesticides, which bring about a condition called Estrogen Dominance, which causes thyroid issues and weight gain as well. So produce needs to be pesticide free (organic) or washed with a veggie wash solution.

    We all need to go back to The Garden, but we have to be smart about choosing hormone free items (beef, dairy) and to choose organic produce or at least soak it in a white vinegar-based water solution to clean it prior to use. Every time mankind’s greed has adulterated our food, we have suffered in our health. God knew what He was doing in the Garden. The closer we can get to returning to Garden eating, the healthier we will be and less we’ll need to turn to (uninformed, stodgy, arrogant, money-hungry) doctors for help. Keep your doctor in case you break your leg or need tests ordered to be covered by insurance, but go get a Naturopath (who cares if insurance won’t cover most of them – I’d rather have ACCURATE DATA that I have to pay for than tainted data given out in 15 minute intervals that’s covered by insurance) and train yourself by studying at length. Watching Dr. Oz or The Doctors does not substitute for self-study. Although much of their info is helpful, you must temper it with the knowledge that they are often leaving out key info based on alliances they have with various corporations/entities. The more you study on your own, the quicker you will recognize it when Dr. Oz or The Doctors has glossed over key data. Sometimes they WILL mention the key data, but it will be a 2 second remark made “in passing” by someone on the show in such a way that it doesn’t seem like important info, but, in fact, it was the most important info on the entire show that day.

    Those with (NON-HASHIMOTO’S) hypothyroid/weight issues should also Google Lugol’s Iodine Solution and painting one’s skin with iodine. There is a TON of unbiased info on the web about using iodine painting (intermittently) to address thyroid issues. Most of us are severely deficient in iodine and you’ll learn exactly why if you Google iodine painting/Lugol’s. If you are iodine deficient, it will be very difficult to lose weight with conventional methods. But iodine is cheap and readily available and doctors and weight loss experts cannot make money by telling you about it.

  4. Do you have medical references for many of the claims made, and advice given in this piece? Claims and advice are meaningless if the source of that advice is unreferenced. Is it based on fact, hard science, or opinion?

  5. pneilson – this article is based on a segment from Dr Oz’s television show. Dr Oz Fans is the largest Dr Oz Fan Website, and as a fan site, we do not give medical advice or recommendations other than to recap what Dr Oz said on his show or in other venues.

  6. Yekaterina Sulima says:

    I just wanted to point out that my father was incredibly lucky enough to receive surgery by the hands of Dr. Lee who was on this show. This man is absolutely amazing, he truly is someone special and if anyone has any concerns, I would recommend you see him and no one else. We went through 3 hospitals and saw many doctors before him, and had no understanding of what was truly going on… and in only one meeting with him, we understood everything, and he was able to take action and help. Absolutely amazing!

  7. Eleanor Sherman says:

    Dear Dr. Oz,

    I am a licenced x-ray technologist having years of experience in mammography. I do not agree with you in saying that mammography exams can cause thyroid cancer. The equipment is built to reduce any scatter there is. Can you support and supply documentation to support your claim? The mammography cone is built to absorb the scatter and there is a face shield on the equipment. Where are you getting your facts to make such a claim? Disappointed.

  8. Scotia Phillips, RT, RDMS says:

    Dr. Oz:
    Ditto what Ealenor Sherman says. I am also a registered mammographer, sonographer and nuclear mdeicine technologist. You have no information to back up your statement that thyroid shields be used in mammography. In addition, because these shields hang low onto the upper chest, areas of the breast, muscle and axilla that are vital in mammography could be excluded with the use of a thyroid shield.

    You have alarmed untold numbers of women needlessly. Just what we need in American, another excuse for not getting life saving procedures!

  9. Aimee Botsch says:

    Dr. Oz
    As a licensed mammographer I am shocked and appauled about your uneducated statement. Due to the close proximety of the thyroid to the pectoralis muscle, the thyroid sheild obscures the image. Since the thyroid sheild obscures the images, the image must be repeated. Repeating the image, increases patient exposure.
    We do not need any more public speakers deterring women from getting their mammograms done yearly. Radiation is misunderstood, and without giving you and every patient a physics lesson I will say this..
    -The breast tissue is compressed to reduce the amount of radiation used durning the mammogram.
    -Also using the proper breath hold, ensures the technologist that there is no patient motion to reduce the possability of having to reapeat the image.
    This is how we, as licensed technologist, protect the patient from excess radiation.
    While thyroid cancer is a potential risk, breast cancer is easily treated with early detection. Mammograms saves lives!

  10. Lisa Paquette says:

    I also am a licenced Xray technologist and Mammography technologist in Ontario, Canada. We also have been dealing with the influx of patients who have watched your television program. Please the the other comments by other mammographers. A lesson in radiation physics should be addressed. One of our radiologists wrote an article after this program to show that there is an increase in both male and female thyroid cancers.
    Unfortunatly, we as technologists it is now our job to spend more time teaching patients about radiation safety and all of the safety code regulations!

  11. I also had thyroid cancer,as a dental assistant for many years I’m certain I was over exposed.but I can’t believe simple digital dental xrays are a problem. Most dental offices due in fact use thyroid collars. I will admit that my life has changed forever.
    the weight gain has been life altering, I have tried /and tried to get the weight off.but it always comes back very quickly is there any thing i can do?i take a thyroid supplement every day and have it checked all the time,and the energy levels absolutely sucks!! Any help out there for me??

  12. TINA PASSANTE says:

    I have difficulty in swallowing my thyroid is good – can you please Help

  13. Tarnished Tiara says:

    My father was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in mid-1997. He was scheduled for surgery to remove his thyroid gland and subsequently died that night. It had nothing to do with the surgery, the hospital was to blame (they didn’t even have a chest-tube tray in the recovery unit). Needless to say, it’s distressing to know that I will probably end up with this diagnosis. Not only did my father have thyroid cancer, his mother had hypothyroidism and my mother has hypothyroidism. It’s important to remember that you never know what’s going to kill you – it could be the operation that’s supposed to save you.

  14. What dr Oz said made senses to me. I noticed there are smaller size of thyroid guard. Ever since I learned this knowledge, I always asked for the thyroid guard. And it’s very funny, technicians never once offered me the guard. So I have to remember myself. What’s the big deal to wear the guard? more time for the technicians. If it will obscure the views then that’s the time not to wear it. Ever since I requested for the guard, technician never had problem to take my films. I feel dental rays are worse than the mammogram.
    thanks to dr OZ.

    I developed several thyroid nodules in my thyroid and I have been exposed to many dental xrays in the last three years. I am so worried the nodules will change to malignancy.

  15. Joan Juner says:

    I had thyroid cancer when I was 19. (I am now 54). But I do remember getting a lot of dental x-rays as a child. I will warn my 30 year old daughter about the genetic aspect though

  16. Christina Cukelj says:

    Dr. Oz This message is in response to a show that aired about a dr. Florence who suggested we all just monitor our thyroid cancer. I am a thyroid cancer survivor. It’s not bad enough that when we are diagnosed with this type of cancer you doctors tell us it’s a ” good cancer” but now you have some crazy woman dr on your show telling us to just ignore it. Let me enlighten you! Thyroid cancer kills people just like any other cancer. Thank God I had the best specialists to help cure me. If detected early, it can be cured. So why would this woman go on national t.v and tell people to just monitor it? I was a long time fan of your show, but I feel it was very irresponsible for you to even have this doctor as a guest. And frankly offensive to those of us who had to suffer with this type of cancer. You should be ashamed . I’m very disappointed and will no longer be watching your show.

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