This Simple Request Could Save Your Life
While the incidence of many cancers is declining, thyroid cancer is one that is steadily soaring, especially in women. It’s got many wondering why. The number of cases of thyroid cancer has more than doubled
since the 1970’s, and is now 4 times more common in women than men.
It’s not clear what is causing this upward trend in thyroid cancer diagnoses. Some think the increase is attributed to improved and more precise diagnostic technology, like imaging and biopsy techniques. Still, there are some reasons to believe that other factors may be involved. Interestingly, the increase in thyroid cancer also began to rise just as X-ray radiation was being routinely used to diagnose and treat disease.
The thyroid gland is very sensitive to radiation. Although routine mammograms, dental X-rays, and chest X-rays of today use much lower and safer amounts of radiation, some worry about this as a thyroid-damaging source. Some professionals say to protect the thyroid people should wear a lead thyroid shield (and apron when possible) when undergoing these procedures to block radiation reaching the thyroid gland, and to limit tests using X-rays to those that are absolutely necessary.
If you are not offered a thyroid shield before an x-ray procedure, ask about it. At Petaluma Dental Group, our assistants are trained to take the time to pull the lead collar up all the way to protect the thyroid prior to taking x-rays. To reduce our patients’ exposure to radiation, we are mindful of taking the minimum number of x-rays needed for diagnostic purposes. In addition, by using top of the line digital x-rays, we are able to reduce the amount of radiation exposure by half.