LORTON, Va. (WUSA) -- The diagnosis of thyroid cancer is growing in huge numbers. It is the fastest growing cancer among women.
Thryoid cancer symptoms can be confusing with other health issues. They include: trouble breathing, chronic coughing, difficulty swallowing, and change of voice.
Bobbie Stiftar of Springfield says, "I had symptoms that I didn't realize were symptoms."
Those mild symptoms that Mrs. Stiftar experienced were pain in the joints, chills, and eyebrow hair loss. These are symptoms that she thought was due to an aging body. Instead, they were associated with papillary thyroid cancer, the most common form.
Bobbie Stiftar says, "I had never heard of thyroid cancer before this. There's a wonderful organization that people can go to called www.thyca.org, and if your're newly diagnosed, they have an 85-page handbook that will walk you through start to finish."
Enoch M. Sanders, M.D. of Virginia Surgery Associates mentions that most people he sees with thyroid cancer stumbled upon it through a routine visit to a physician or through full-body scans for other reasons.
Dr. Sanders says, "Most people who have thyroid cancer and come through my door don't have many symptoms at all, someone just incidentally found a nodule."
Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer are the most common forms. If found early, the chances for survival for those types are high.
Dr. Sanders says, "The amount of people dying from these illnesses are going down, that's because we have better treatment and people are living longer."
Dr. Sanders adds, "We know that thyroid cancer is caused by radiation in a lot of instances, but a lot of the cancers that we have nowadays from thyroid cancer we don't know what the cause is."
Bobbie Stiftar had an operation to remove the thyroid earlier this year, and had radiation. She will know soon if the cancer is gone completely.
Stiftar says, "You have to have a positive attitude when your're dealing with cancer, because if you don't, it's going to kill you.
Former Chantilly High School student Nikki Ferraro was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in April 2010. She organized a Relay for Life team called "Bite Me Cancer". The team turned into a foundation to raise awareness and research funds for thyroid cancer and to support teens with all cancers.
For more information, go to www.bitemecancer.org.
"Bite Me Cancer" has teamed up with Paisano's Pizza in their fundrasing efforts. Every Tuesday to November 13, 2012, two dollars from every large pizza will be donated to "Bite Me Cancer".