By Sara Bondell - August 29, 2019
More than 50,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year. While the disease has a good survival rate, the chance of being diagnosed has risen in recent years and is the most rapidly increasing cancer in the country. Much of the rise can be attributed to the use of better technology to diagnose thyroid nodules that may have been missed in the past.
AN EVENING AT MOFFITT: FOCUSING ON THYROID CANCER AWARENESS
WHAT: Learn about the changing thyroid cancer treatment landscape and discuss the importance of individualized treatment options. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
WHEN: Monday, Sept. 9 6-8 p.m.
WHERE: Moffitt Cancer Center, Stabile Research Building Atrium, 12902 USF Magnolia Drive Tampa FL 33612
What is the first thing someone should do after getting a thyroid cancer diagnosis?
It is important to remain calm and organized after a cancer diagnosis. I empower my patients to be proactive and take ownership about their cancer care. Patients are encouraged to look for different specialists in order to find one they can trust. Asking for a second opinion from a cancer specialist is not a wrong thing to do. It is also important to get support from family, friends and the community.
What are the biggest misconceptions about thyroid cancer?
Thyroid cancer is considered a “good cancer,” which is actually one of the biggest misconceptions. Even though a majority of the patients do really well and thyroid cancer does not affect their life expectancy, patients have a lot of anxiety and fears when they are diagnosed. Diagnosis of cancer has a major psychological impact. I believe that knowledge about the disease, clear set expectations and established goals of therapy help along the process. Assurance and support is what every patient with thyroid cancer needs.
How important is individualized care and treatment plans for thyroid cancer patients?
Individualized management is a foundation of thyroid cancer management. In the past years, all patients with thyroid cancer were treated in the same way with total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine. Now we are much more selective about when to operate or when to observe, whether to give radioactive iodine or not and what dose to select. Not a single patient with thyroid cancer is the same, and everybody needs their own personalized plan of care.
How have treatment options changed for thyroid cancer patients in recent years?
There have been major advancements in thyroid cancer over recent years. We understand much more about underlying mechanisms of thyroid cancer, and consequently we can offer better diagnostic and follow-up strategies, as well as treatment. Many novel therapies have been approved for advanced progressive metastatic thyroid cancer. Additional new treatments are under clinical investigation and will be available in the future. New therapies are becoming very individualized based on specific cancer characteristics that patients have.
What is the best advice you can give thyroid cancer patients?
I believe it is important for patients to find a team of doctors whom they are comfortable with. I am convinced it is managed best by a multidisciplinary team of endocrinologists, surgeons, pathologists, nuclear medicine specialists, radiologist, medical oncologists and geneticists. The best clinical results can be reached when multiple specialists are looking at the same problem from different angles.
Selecting an experienced surgeon is another important aspect. Proper planning for initial surgery may avoid additional surgeries in the future. Surgeons who focus on the thyroid have much lower surgical complication rates and better cancer control results.