Many people know how important it is to check their bodies for lumps and bumps, but few are familiar with a very simple thyroid self-examination that can save lives (video below).
Approximately 62,450 Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015, while 1,950 people have died from the disease, the American Cancer Society reports.
This type of cancer disproportionately affects women, with two thirds more women diagnosed than men, although approximately 15,220 men reported new cases of thyroid cancer in 2015.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland, located at the front base of the neck, according to Little Things. It produces hormones that affect the entire body and help regulate metabolism, temperature, heartbeat and energy levels. This important organ can produce either too much or too little of the hormone; even worse, it can become enlarged or develop lumps that may be cancerous.
Fortunately, there is a very quick and simple way to check your neck for thyroid abnormalities, as demonstrated in the Prevention Magazine video below. All you need is a glass of water and a mirror. Once you locate your thyroid, which is beneath the Adam's apple and above the collarbone, take a sip of water and tilt your head back. When you swallow, watch your thyroid in the mirror, keeping an eye out for any swelling or lumps.
Abnormalities do not automatically point to cancer, but they definitely merit a prompt appointment with a primary care doctor, notes Little Things.
Since it is also fairly common for thyroids to become under or overactive and cause a myriad of health issues, it is important to keep an eye out for some key indications. Common symptoms of an abnormally functioning thyroid include feeling sad or depressed (or anxious and irritable for an overactive thyroid), constipation, sleeping too much, hair loss, dry skin, sudden weight gain, low sex drive, muscular pain, heart palpitations, brain fog, high blood pressure, increased appetite, or throat discomfort.