TAMPA, Fla. (KFSN) -- The thyroid is a small gland in the front of your neck, and it happens to be a favorite target for cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, thyroid cancer cases have tripled in the last three decades.
The good news: it's treatable.
There are symptoms you need to watch out for, especially if you're a woman.
The lump behind her ear was enough to get Laura Bruser concerned.
Laura shared, "I went to an ENT doctor. He did a CAT scan. Turns out I had nothing here, but they found a nodule on my thyroid."
After she processed the fact it was cancer, the next tough hurdle was explaining it to her eight-year-old son.
Laura continued, "He just looked at me and said, 'Mommy, are you going to lose your hair?' and, I said, 'No, I'm not honey. It's not that kind of cancer.'"
Bruser is among a growing number of women diagnosed with thyroid cancer which has tripled over the past 30 years. The doctor treating Bruser is considered one of the best thyroid surgeons in the world, Gary Clayman.
Dr. Clayman says, "If you're a woman and you live long enough, you will develop thyroid nodules. Not necessarily thyroid cancer because most thyroid nodules are not cancerous."
The American Cancer Society reports that women are diagnosed three times more often than men.
"They took out my whole thyroid. I had three nodules, and they took out 22 lymph nodes as well," stated Laura.
While it's unknown why cases are increasing among women, and there's no way to prevent it, Dr. Clayman says most thyroid cancers don't need to be treated right away because they're not life-threatening.
"Ninety to 95 percent of thyroid surgeries are performed in the country by highly inexperienced thyroid surgeons," continued Dr. Clayman.
Bruser's symptoms were clear: pain in the front of her neck and trouble breathing.
"I was having problems swallowing, and I was having horrible sleep issues," said Laura.
Only days after her surgery, Bruser was in the Jingle Bell Run with her husband and son.
"We did that as a family, seven days after, so that felt great," Laura said smiling.
If you do end up needing surgery for thyroid cancer, the scar is very minimal. Dr. Clayman says you can live with thyroid nodules and never have cancer but definitely discuss it with an endocrinologist.
For More Information, Contact:
Gary L. Clayman, MD
Ellen Fiss, Tampa General Public Relations
Thyroid Cancers Triple