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How to Conduct a Self-Exam of Your Thyroid Gland

Narrator: This is Science Today. The incidence of thyroid cancer has been increasing over the past three decades. Dr. Orlo Clark, a professor of endocrine surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, says thyroid cancer has jumped from being the 15th most common cancer in women to its current status as the 7th most common cancer in women. One of the reasons for this increase is early diagnosis. In fact, Clark says that women can easily conduct self-examinations of their thyroid by looking for the butterfly-shaped gland in their neck.

Clark: People should look in the mirror and swallow and see if your thyroid goes up and down. You can often see if there's a lesion there because even a physician may miss a thyroid nodule if he or she isn't well-trained in that particular field. Once you see it, it's easy to see it. I think that's a good idea - not to frighten people, because most people aren't going to have problems, but if a person can see a nodule in his or her own neck, just see a lump or asymmetry....look first, then feel. So, I think patients could do that, that would be easy to do.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.