"Dancing with the Stars" co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet shocked fans today when she revealed in a video that she has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
"I feel really good," she explained in the video. "I've never felt better. That's what's so crazy about this whole thing, and you never ever think that some tiny nodule, something that I didn't even know was going on in my body -- I went for a regular physical, and that's how I discovered this."
Burke-Charvet has been chronicling her cancer experience on Modern Mom. In July 2012, she wrote in a post that she had been ignoring her doctor's recommendation to undergo a thyroid ultrasound after he found a lump in her neck during her routine exam. It wasn't until her friend told her about her own thyroid cancer experience that she decided to face her fears and make the appointment.
On Nov. 8, Burke-Charvet posted a video to say that she received atypical results a few days after she posted that she had made an appointment. She said after a battery of tests, she learned she had thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer is a form of cancer that is found in the thyroid gland, an organ found at the bottom of your throat that helps make hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, blood temperature and weight. There are several types of thyroid cancer including papillary carcinoma (which accounts for eight out of 10 diagnoses), follicular carcinoma (including kinds of Hurthle cell carcinoma), medullary thyroid carcinoma, anaplastic carcinoma, thyroid lymphoma and thyroid sarcoma.
Symptoms vary but may include cough, difficulty swallowing, neck swelling, a thyroid lump (nodule) and hoarseness or changing voice.
The National Cancer Institute estimates 56,460 cases of thyroid cancer will occur in 2012 and 1,780 deaths will be caused by the disease this year. It is mostly diagnosed in younger patients: 80 percent of thyroid cancer patients are under 65 years old according to the American Cancer Society. The five-year survival rate ranges from those diagnosed with stage I or II thyroid cancer approach 100 percent, according to the society. Depending on type of thyroid cancer, survival rates at stage IV can be anywhere from 7 percent to 51 percent.
The Mayo Clinic adds that thyroid cancer isn't common in the U.S., but rates seem to be increasing. Updated technology that is allowing doctors to see small thyroid cancers that they wouldn't have otherwise seen in the past may explain the rise in rates.
Burke-Charvet will undergo surgery for a thyroidectomy, which involves removing part or all of the thyroid gland.
"(It) means that I'm going to have a nice big scar right here across my neck," she said. "And, I don't get to just walk around and pretend that nothing happened and not follow up and not share it because it's going to be pretty much dead center."
The dancer and actress did not reveal what type of thyroid cancer she had, but she did say that doctors were optimistic about her recovery.
"Doctors say this is a 'good' kind of cancer to have. "Good cancer": That sounds so crazy, but my doctor did tell me this is a happily ever after ending kind of thing," she said.
Watch Burke-Charvet talk about her diagnosis and upcoming surgery below.