September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, and James J.S. Chen, M.D., FACHE, director of Atlantic Medical Group’s Thyroid Center at Summit and endocrinologist at Overlook Medical Center, believes it is critical that everyone know the warning signs of thyroid cancer.
“The most common form of thyroid cancer, papillary cancer, has a very high cure rate if detected early,” said Dr. Chen, who is one of the few board-certified endocrinologists in the U.S. who is also certified in nuclear medicine and holds a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to treat individuals who have thyroid cancer. “That is why it is so critical to see an endocrinologist right away if you have any warning signs.”
According to the American Cancer Society, thyroid cancer can cause any of the following warning signs or symptoms:
- A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly
- Swelling in the neck
- Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears
- Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- A constant cough that is not due to a cold
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck that releases hormones that control the body’s metabolism. These hormones regulate a range of bodily functions. Disorders of the thyroid range from goiter (an enlarged gland) to potentially life-threatening cancer.
“The good news is that cancer occurs in only about 5% of thyroid nodules,” said Dr. Chen. “But it’s important to remain vigilant, and see a specialist to determine exactly what is wrong if you have any of these symptoms.”
Dr. Chen is board certified in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, and nuclear medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, N.J. He also completed two fellowships at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, the first in endocrinology and metabolism and the second in nuclear medicine.
Dr. Chen has practiced Thyroidology since 1985 and only sees patients with thyroid disease, and he works closely with other Atlantic Health System Cancer Care specialists, such as endocrine and head and neck surgeons, in the treatment of thyroid cancer.
He has published multiple original papers on thyroid function tests and thyroid imaging in top-rated peer-reviewed medical journals. Before joining the medical staff at Overlook Medical Center, Dr. Chen served as director of the Thyroid Center, chief of Endocrinology and director of Nuclear Medicine at Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center.
The Atlantic Medical Group Thyroid Center at Summit is located at Overlook Medical Center, 99 Beauvoir Avenue, Fourth Floor, Summit, N.J. For an appointment, call 908-522-6995.