Receiving a thyroid cancer diagnosis can be scary, but rest assured most types of thyroid cancer are very treatable. The majority of patients will go on to live long, healthy, and normal lives with early detection and treatment. Whether you, a friend, or loved one has been recently affected by thyroid cancer, we want to share with you the three things you can do to help save a life as part of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month.
1: It’s all About Early Detection
Thyroid cancer is the most common cancer in women under 30 and the second most common cancer in women between 30-45 years of age.
Despite how common it is, most thyroid cancers do not have symptoms. If symptoms do exist, they may consist of a lump in the throat or uncomfortable swallowing. Since most thyroid cancers do not produce any symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor if you have any concerns. Some types of cancer can be diagnosed with a biopsy, whereas others may be read as ‘indeterminate’ on biopsy and could require surgical removal for a definitive diagnosis.
After early detection, patients will generally go on to receive one or a combination of several treatments including: surgery, radioactive iodine, and thyroid hormone suppression, with more physicians recommending a more conservative approach to treatment.
2: Thyroid Cancer Can Come Back Years After Initial Treatment
Although thyroid cancer is very treatable, it is important to remember that it may recur years later. That’s why it is important to have regular checkups with your doctor even after your treatment is completed. If your thyroid cancer recurs, it is treatable and early detection is key.
After treatment it’s important to maintain a healthy thyroid, which may require patients to take daily medication for thyroid hormone replacement indefinitely.
Encourage your friends or loved ones to work closely with their health care provider, even after they have received treatment for thyroid cancer.
3: Put Together a Survivorship Care Plan
Despite how life-disrupting and stressful thyroid cancer may be for you or a loved one, it can be managed. One of the best ways to manage the condition is through the development of a survivorship care plan. A survivorship care plan is a detailed record of your cancer experience that is kept on file, so that other health care providers can access it when monitoring your health. This empowering tool can also be updated when your medical condition changes and allows you to share it with any provider you see.
Make sure to talk to your doctor about developing a survivorship care plan and encourage your friends or loved ones fighting cancer to create one as well. Not sure where to start? The Saint John’s Cancer Institute has a dedicated cancer survivorship team that specializes in creating personalized survivorship plans.
What’s in the Survivorship Care Plan?
- Cancer treatment summary
- Contact information about the members of your health care team
- Diagnostic Tests
- Familial Cancer Risk Assessment
- Follow up Care Plan
- Surveillance and Recommended Tests
- Symptoms to watch for
- Possible Late / Long Term Effects
- Risk of Cancer Recurrence / Secondary Cancer
- Common Sites of Metastasis
- Wellness Recommendations
Finding the Right Team
Ultimately, the best way for you, a friend or loved one to protect themselves from thyroid cancer is by finding the right health care team to manage your health. The Saint John’s Cancer Institute offers endocrine surgeons and endocrinologists, who are leaders in the field of multi-disciplinary approaches to diagnosing and treating thyroid cancer. Our team of cancer support services including a survivorship team are available before, during, and after your thyroid cancer diagnosis. We’re with you every step of the way with personalized, compassionate care, and treatment options.
In honor of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, we want to remind you to get your thyroid screened if you have any concerns. Schedule an appointment today with our endocrine team!
Save the date for the upcoming Saint John’s Cancer Institute Auxiliary Luncheon! Melanie Goldfarb, MD, Director of the Endocrine Tumors and Disorders center, will be honored with the Angel award!