New studies show that thyroid cancer has more than tripled over the last four decades. It especially affects young and middle-aged women, causing about 2,000 deaths a year.
For eight years, Mitzi McCabe, now 48, felt like she had the flu all the time. She had no energy and had trouble breathing. Doctors discovered she had low thyroid levels; she was treated with steroids and gained 120 pounds over four years. Then, a potentially deadly discovery.
"They removed both lobes of the thyroid plus two nodules off of my thyroid. One of them was malignant, had cancer in it, and then they removed two parathyroid glands," McCabe said.
Anand Shivnani, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Baylor Scott & White explained, "We're seeing thyroid cancer in younger patients than what we typically think of when we think about cancer."
Researchers say that obesity and environmental exposure to radiation as a child, as well as flame retardants in household objects, may be to blame for the increase.
After surgery, Mitzi was treated with iodine-131, a radioactive isotope in pill form, which kills any cancer cells left behind after surgery but she had to be isolated.
"I was radioactive for 5 days," said McCabe.
Doctor Shivnani said, "She's done great. Her treatment went perfectly."
"I feel ten times better than I did. I feel so much better than I did before," McCabe stated.
Now Mitzi is losing weight, and happy to be active again.
Doctors report Mitzi is now cancer-free. Researchers say more advanced screening and diagnosis is helping catch these cancers at an earlier stage.
Studies show thyroid cancer is on the rise