Maintaining Thyroid Health

woman touching her neck

New Brunswick, N.J., January 1, 2022 – The thyroid, a key part of the endocrine system, is a small gland at the base of your neck that produces a hormone that helps control your body's metabolism. Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goiter (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment, to cancer that may need to be treated with radioactive iodine or surgery.

Research shows that thyroid cancer diagnoses have spiked for U.S. women over the last decade. Staying educated about thyroid issues, doctor visits and the right lifestyle can help you maintain your thyroid health. Amanda M. Laird, MD, FACS, chief of endocrine surgery at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and associate professor of surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; and Toni Beninato, MD, MS, FACS, endocrine surgeon at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and assistant professor of surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, share more information.  

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle.

The thyroid plays a large role in your overall health. While there is no known way to prevent thyroid cancer, some things that may help to maintain thyroid health are the lifestyle choices you make. Consider eating nutritious foods including a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain foods, maintain a healthy weight and strive to be regularly physically active to improve your overall health.

Learn to recognize signs of thyroid cancer.

The most common symptom of thyroid cancer is a painless lump or swelling that develops in the neck. Other symptoms only tend to occur after the condition has reached an advanced stage, which may include unexplained hoarseness or difficulty swallowing that does not go away. You may also experience a feeling of pressure at the point of the mass. 

If you notice something abnormal, talk with a health professional.

The best way to determine if you have a thyroid condition is to consult your physician as soon as possible. If you feel any new lumps, tell your doctor. Masses in the neck should be evaluated first with a physical exam, and then a decision is made to pursue further testing if needed. To evaluate for thyroid masses, an ultrasound is done first. A biopsy may be recommended depending on those results. If you have a family history of thyroid cancer, it is important that you see a health care team that is familiar with the latest advances in genetic counseling and genetic testing for this disease. 

Learn more about the Endocrine and Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute - Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, together  with RWJBarnabas Health. The program offers a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach for the full spectrum of treatment for thyroid cancer.


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