Feeling unusually tired and irritable? Losing or gaining weight despite no change in diet or routine? It could be your thyroid. Actress Katee Sackhoff, who stars on A&E’s “Longmire,” recently shared her experience as a survivor of thyroid cancer with us.
Sackhoff, also known for appearing on Fox’s “24” and on Syfy’s “Battlestar Galactica,” said she dismissed her exhaustion, anxiety and mood changes as work-related. But toward the end of filming for “Battlestar Galactica,” Sackhoff went to a routine check-up and found that her hectic schedule was not to blame.
In 2007, Sackhoff’s doctor found a lump on her thyroid, the one-ounce butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that sits at the base of the neck just above the collarbone.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there were over 60,000 new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2013.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology, report that thyroid conditions are more common than diabetes or heart disease. As many as 15 million Americans with various forms of thyroid disease may be undiagnosed.
Sackhoff, who is determined to raise awareness about the warning signs, said that she believes so many with thyroid conditions may not realize that they have a problem with their thyroid due to the unassuming nature of the symptoms. “Thyroid disease can present itself in so many different ways,” Sackhoff said, and her diagnosis came as a complete shock to her.
The hormone-producing thyroid gland influences the function of many of the body’s systems, and many attribute the classic signs of thyroid disease to unrelated causes such as aging, depression, or menopause.
In an article for the Society for Women’s Health Research, Dr. Jennifer Wider reported that roughly 8 out of 10 people with thyroid disease are women. Some, but not all cases of thyroid disease will cause a lump, tenderness or swelling in the neck region, Wilder noted.
If you experience swelling on your neck or any number of these symptoms, contact your doctor.
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Dry skin and hair
- Hoarse voice
- Mood changes