As Dancing with the Stars wrapped up another season Tuesday, host Brooke Burke-Charvet prepares to undergo treatment for thyroid cancer.
It's something Kelly Perrella, a photographer living in Boca Raton, can relate to. Her thyroid cancer was detected during a routine exam.
"The doctor just happened to notice that I had a lump here," said Perrella. "A nodule on my neck and she said I really needed an ultrasound and to see an endocrinologist."
An ultrasound showed that Perrella had four nodules on her thyroid. The cancerous gland was removed last month.
"We do mammograms to screen for breast cancer, and pap smears for cervical cancer, but we don't have a screening tool for thyroid cancer," said Dr. David Binston with Memorial Healthcare System. "So, it's important that the thyroid gland is examined every time you go to a physician."
Binston said there are about 56,000 patients diagnosed each year, and it's important to find a surgeon specially trained in thyroid removal. Although surgery is the main treatment for removing a cancerous gland, it doesn't necessarily mean a large incision or scar.
"Because the best time to treat it is the initial time. You have to have the right work up, right surgery, and the right additional therapy up front for the best outcome," said Binston.
So far, Perrella is recovering well. She barely has a scar. And, like Burke-Charvet, Perrella is a busy, working mother with much to look forward to.
"It really hasn't been such an inconvenience. I haven't let it stop me from doing what I normally do," said Perrella. "The worry, that has been the biggest issue, but other than that, life goes on."
Once the thyroid gland is removed, patients must take medication to regulate their hormonal functions. Perrella is also undergoing a radioactive iodine treatment next month to kill any remaining cancer cells.