Tag Archive for: anaplastic thyroid cancer

Thyroid Cancer Explained: Types, Staging, and Patient Communication

Thyroid Cancer Explained: Types, Staging, and Patient Communication from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What’s vital for thyroid cancer patients to know about thyroid cancer types, staging, and patient communication? Expert Dr. Megan Haymart from the University of Michigan discusses different thyroid cancer types, how she approaches her patients with information, and proactive patient advice for optimal care.

[ACT]IVATION TIP

“…I recommend that patients know what type of thyroid cancer they have and the characteristics of it, including size and if there’s any high-risk features. And the reason I recommend this is because there’s a lot of information on the web, and sometimes you can be reading about a different type of thyroid cancer than what you had, and that might create a lot of worry and anxiety. And so I think the more you know that’s specific to your type of thyroid cancer, the more helpful it is for you.”

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Transcript:

Lisa Hatfield:

Dr. Haymart, can you please explain what thyroid cancer is, including its types, staging, and how you typically describe it to your patients and their families to help them understand?

Dr. Megan Haymart:

Yes, so the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower neck, and on half the population thyroid nodules, which are lumps in the thyroid, about 5 percent of those are thyroid cancer, which means the cells are abnormal in those nodules. The most common type of thyroid cancer we see is papillary thyroid cancer. So out of every 10 patients I see, probably eight or nine will have papillary thyroid cancer, but we can also see follicular thyroid cancer and Hurthle cell cancer, in addition to medullary thyroid cancer, and then rarely anaplastic thyroid cancer.

So papillary and follicular thyroid cancer and a little bit of Hurthle cell cancer are treated very similarly. Medullary thyroid cancer comes from a different type of cells and has a little bit of a different treatment. And then anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is very rare, is very aggressive and also requires a little bit different type of treatment.

And so for my patients, what I try to talk about is what type of thyroid cancer they have and then what their pathology showed. So did it have any high-risk features? What was the size? And then we talk about how this affects the stage, and stage is standardly used to predict risk of death. For most of my patients, fortunately, risk of death is very, very low. So we also talk about risk of recurrence, which is the cancer coming back. And again, we use the pathology to help us talk about this in more depth.

And my or this question is I recommend that patients know what type of thyroid cancer they have and the characteristics of it, including size and if there’s any high-risk features. And the reason I recommend this is because there’s a lot of information on the web, and sometimes you can be reading about a different type of thyroid cancer than what you had, and that might create a lot of worry and anxiety. And so I think the more you know that’s specific to your type of thyroid cancer, the more helpful it is for you.