A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be overwhelming. This fact sheet will tell you:
- How to prepare for your appointments
- The value of a second opinion
- What questions will help you learn more about your diagnosis
The Importance of Communicating With Your Health Care Team
Your team of doctors, nurses and social workers are there to help. Here are some tips for your appointments.
Bring a list of questions. This will help you remember important things to ask. Write down or record the responses so that you do not forget them.
Consider bringing a loved one with you. A friend or a family member can help ask questions and provide emotional support.
Ask questions about costs. Knowing how much your treatment and medications might cost can help you plan ahead and focus more attention on getting better.
If your doctors and nurses do not know every answer, they may be able to guide you to those who do.
Should You Get a Second Opinion?
Usually with a new diagnosis there is a period of time, depending on the cancer type and stage, before treatment begins. During this time, getting a second opinion may help give you a peace of mind or an alternative treatment possibility. Talk to your health care team for recommendations.
Questions That You May Want to Ask Your Health Care Team
The following questions should help you learn key information about your diagnosis and situation.
“What type of thyroid cancer do I have?” The four main types of thyroid cancer are papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic. Papillary is the most common.
“What stage is my thyroid cancer?” A cancer’s stage means its size and how much it has spread in the body. The higher the number (I, II, III or IV), the more it has spread.
“What are my treatment options?”
There are many kinds of treatments for thyroid cancer. These can include surgery, radiation, targeted treatment and chemotherapy.
“Is there a clinical trial available to me?” Clinical trials test new approaches based on known and effective treatments for cancer. Doctors often urge people to take part in clinical trials if they are available.
“Is surgery an option for me?” If surgery is an option, your health care team can help you get ready. They should be able to explain what the surgery does, what recovery is like and what the effects may be.
“How can I cope with my emotions?” In addition to loved ones, you can find help in places of worship, support groups and counseling. Activities such as meditation and relaxation exercises can also help.