January may be best known for New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but did you know that it is also Thyroid Awareness Month?
While it may seem strange to dedicate an entire month to such a small gland in the neck, over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year, according to Cancer.net. The disease, which is more prevalent among women than in men was, until recently, the most quickly increasing cancer diagnosis in the United States.
This January, take a moment to learn more about the thyroid. Below is information on causes of thyroid cancer; symptoms ; and the different ways — from medical to financial — that the illness can be addressed.
Researchers have pinpointed what causes certain cancers, but thyroid cancer still isn’t fully understood. “The exact cause of most thyroid cancers is not yet known,” writes the American Cancer Society.
However, scientists have identified risk factors, like age and sex. “Thyroid cancer can occur at any age, but the risk peaks earlier for women (who are most often in their 40s or 50s when diagnosed) than for men (who are usually in their 60s or 70s),” explains the American Cancer Society. Too little iodine (which is often found in table salt) and exposure to radiation have also been linked to thyroid cancer, according to the Rogel Cancer Center at the University of Michigan.
Like many other diseases, family history can also have an outsized role in causing this illness. “Medullary thyroid cancer is sometimes caused by a change in a gene that is passed from parent to child,” reports the National Cancer Institute.
What are the signs of thyroid cancer? Unlike certain other cancers, “many people with thyroid cancer don’t have any signs or symptoms of the disease,” writes Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. For some, however, swelling or small lumps at the front of the throat (where the thyroid gland is located) can be possible indicators.
As the cancer progresses, symptoms often become more apparent. Symptoms of thyroid cancer in females and males alike might include trouble swallowing as well as pain in the neck and throat, according to the Mayo Clinic. Changes to your voice, including increasing hoarseness, may also take place.
Treatments for thyroid cancer can vary. “Depending on the type and stage of your thyroid cancer, you may need more than one type of treatment,” explains the American Cancer Society. This could include hormone therapy, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. A common approach is a thyroidectomy: “Most people with thyroid cancer undergo surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid,” writes the Mayo Clinic.
In some cases, cancer treatment can lead to “hypothyroidism,” which means that the function of thyroid gland decreases. “Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease,” says the Mayo Clinic. Hypothyroidism treatment typically consists of thyroid hormone replacement medication.
Treating cancer is often about more than medicine — patients also have to address the financial aspects of battling the disease. Even with health insurance, the costs of fighting thyroid cancer can be high. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, researchers expect treatment costs in the U.S. to exceed $3.5 billion annually by 2030.
Thankfully, financial assistance for thyroid cancer patients is available. One option is for individuals to leverage a resource they may already have: their life insurance policy.
Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living Program allows those with thyroid cancer or another advanced-stage illness to receive a cash advance on their existing life insurance policy. These funds can be used to cover medical expenses, but don’t have to be – there are no restrictions. The advance can be used to finance a much-needed vacation, cover living expenses, pay for a long-overdue home renovation, and more. The life insurance policy remains in place throughout the process and, in over 90 percent of cases, funds remain to pass on to beneficiaries. This January, make it your resolution to gain insight into ways of mitigating the financial stress that stems from a thyroid cancer diagnosis. Facing a serious illness isn’t easy, but there are resources to help ease the burden. To learn more about the Funds For Living Program, contact Fifth Season Financial today at (866) 459-1271 or visit www.fifthseasonfinancial.com/funds-for-living-program/.
Relieve financial stress with the Funds For Living Program, a viatical alternative that uses your life insurance for a cash advance