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We all know we can do self-examinations for breast and skin cancer as well as some other conditions. Early detection is often the key not only discovering a possible disease but also treat the condition as early as possible – hopefully reducing your risk of more severe treatment or even death.

The same goes for checking our thyroid.

How to do an at-home thyroid exam

The steps for doing a thyroid self-check are simple and fast. Endocrinologist Dr. Elise Brett, an Icahn School of Medicine professor, is an enormous advocate for at-home thyroid examinations. In case you don’t know, the thyroid is located below the voice box and above the windpipe. The butterfly shaped gland is found in the front of the neck right above the collar-bone. The doctor instructs men to look under their Adam’s apple.

In a short video clip, Dr. Brett demonstrates how to do a thyroid check. All you need is a glass of water and a mirror. To start, take a sip of water in front of the mirror. As you swallow, watch your neck in the mirror for any lumps or protrusions. You may want to do this a few times. If you see something abnormal, a bulge or an asymmetrical growth, you need to make an appointment with your doctor to have it checked out.

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What if you find an abnormality?

Finding an abnormality doesn’t necessarily mean you have thyroid cancer. It could just be a benign nodule that isn’t concerning (which is a common occurrence), or it could be another thyroid condition such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, a goiter or Hashimoto’s disease.

The good news is all these conditions are treatable, including cancer. Early detection yields the best results when followed up with an appointment with your doctor for accurate diagnosis. If you think you may have an abnormal or asymmetrical thyroid, discuss your concerns with a professional; it never hurts to be too careful.

The American Thyroid Association states that about 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, with women being five to eight times more likely than men to suffer. Of these 20 million Americans, the ATA estimates up to 60 percent are unaware they have a thyroid condition.

Stay informed

What can you do to stay informed? Start by doing regular self-checks so you can notice any changes or abnormalities early on. Consider doing self-checks for the types of cancer you can help screen for at home, and the ones you and your family are at particular risk for.

Taking care of your health is important to feeling good. If you’re concerned about a new lump, swelling or how you feel physically in general, make sure you schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss any symptoms.

Do you already do self-checks? If not, are you going to start now with these simple instructions? Early detection could be the key to survival.

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