When asked about what information they wished they were given during their medical journeys, survivors of thyroid cancer reported a desire to have had more information on treatment. An article in Oncology Nurse Advisor shared that 1,412 participants provided insight through a 55-question survey. A majority of respondents were female with a median age of 48 at the time of diagnosis. 99% of respondents had undergone surgery related to their cancer, with 81.8% also receiving radioactive iodine treatment.
The survey results, published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, analyzed the results, collected over a 1-year period. Findings from the study show that:
- 37.2% of respondents felt that they didn’t completely understand their treatment plan. Within this group, people shared that they were not well-versed with treatment side effects, postoperative care, or when their treatments might take place.
- 40.9% of respondents did not feel that their treatment met their expectations. They felt like their care teams were lacking in some respects and that treatment delays placed an undue burden on them.
- 67.6% of respondents felt as though they hadn’t received enough information about how thyroid removal surgery would impact their lives.
- Males and those without any treatment complications were more likely to be happy with the treatment they received.
These findings suggest that there are significant areas of improvement in the realm of thyroid cancer. Finding ways to better educate and support patients is crucial.
Information on Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer begins in the thyroid. This gland, situated at the base of the throat, normally creates hormones that play a role in blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and body temperature regulation. There are different thyroid cancer subtypes depending on where the cancer forms. For example, papillary thyroid cancer is the most common form; rarer forms include follicular, anaplastic, and medullary. This cancer occurs more frequently in females than males. Additional risk factors include radiation exposure, a family history of thyroid cancer, and genetic diseases like multiple endocrine neoplasia types 2A and 2B. Symptoms may include:
- A lump in the neck
- Increasing hoarseness or other vocal changes
- Difficulty breathing and/or swallowing
- Chronic cough
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain and swelling in the neck and throat
Treatment options may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, alcohol ablation, targeted therapy, radioactive iodine treatment, and surgical intervention.