Easing Patient Worries About Thyroid Cancer And Resources For Survivors
At Pegasus Home Health Care, we value and support our professional team members. We are an equal-opportunity employer, and our hiring values include diversity, equity, and inclusivity. You’ll be treated with respect by your colleagues and by our staff.
Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in Altadena Village help their clients remain safe and independent in their homes. Their care is customized to meet individual needs. For example, career home health care nurses help ease patients’ worries about thyroid cancer.
The thyroid is a small gland with a big job. It uses iodine to make hormones that control several vital functions. Those hormones travel in the blood to every part of the body.
An individual’s heart rate, temperature, and metabolism depend on thyroid hormones. The brain and other organs also need specific hormones made by the thyroid. Even muscles require hormones produced by the thyroid.
Thyroid cancer is not common. Fortunately, most types are treatable, and the overall five-year survival rate is 98.4 percent.
Types Of Thyroid Cancer
As with most diseases, there’s more than one type of thyroid cancer. Understanding the types enables you to provide the best assistance to your patients. Symptoms, treatment, and prognosis vary among the types, which include:
- Anaplastic: rare, fast-growing, and aggressive, with a very low survival rate. It usually affects individuals 65 years old or older and more women than men. Surgery is the standard treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, or both may be necessary after surgery.
- Follicular: moderately rare, accounting for about 10-15 percent of all thyroid cancers. Individuals with it are usually at least 50 years old and more often women than men. It can metastasize to any organ but most often spreads to the lungs and bones. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy. It’s usually curable with treatment.
- Hurthle: rare and sometimes aggressive and may metastasize to the lymph nodes. Surgery, followed by radioactive iodine, is the usual treatment. The survival rate varies according to age and metastasis.
- Medullary: a rare type that can be hereditary or non-hereditary. The inherited type usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 50. It’s less aggressive than the non-hereditary type. Women experience the non-hereditary type more often than men do. It metastasizes to the lymph glands earlier than the other types. In advanced cases, both types cause diarrhea. A total thyroidectomy is the only treatment. The cure rate varies depending on the degree of metastasis.
- Papillary: the most common type and the one with the best survival rate. Treatment usually involves surgery, but in some cases, radiation treatment is adequate.
There are other, very rare, types. The National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for health professionals. They also list clinical trials for thyroid cancer treatment in which your patient might wish to participate.
Helping Thyroid Cancer Survivors
If your patient’s thyroid has been removed, they’ll need lifetime hormone therapy. Most survivors will also require varying levels of follow-up care, such as regular exams and testing. Some may need rehabilitation.
As survivors, your patients will probably worry about cancer recurrence. Thyroid cancer can recur after treatment, sometimes years later. It might show up in other parts of their bodies.
Part of your care is awareness of their feelings about the ways in which their life has changed. Your position as their in-home caregiver provides an opportunity to help ease their worries.
Some individuals feel guilty because their disease makes extra work for caregivers. Some become isolated, either on their own or because others “abandon” them. Others give in to feeling angry, depressed, fearful, or overwhelmed, among other emotions.
It’s essential that you help patients understand that their illness is not their fault. Reassure them that their feelings are normal and they don’t need to try to hide them from you. Encourage them to continue or resume doing things they enjoy.
Often, someone like you willing to listen to their feelings and worries is all they need. You can alleviate their health worries with factual information. You also have access to professional counselors on your Pegasus team if required.
Resources For Thyroid Cancer Survivors
The Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association (ThyCa) has tons of resources. If your patient has internet access, they will find support groups for each kind of thyroid cancer. The groups also offer phone and email support.
The ThyCa person-to-person network matches survivors with volunteers for support. They also offer dozens of downloads that professionals can provide their patients. All of their services and materials are completely free.
There’s A Place For You At Pegasus
Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in Altadena Village and our other locations strive to keep individuals healthy at home. Part of their job satisfaction comes from easing their patients’ worries about their health. Career home health care nurses treat all individuals with dignity and respect for their privacy regardless of their medical needs.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. As a member of the Pegasus team, you’ll receive the training and support you need to advance your career. Contact us today to start working with professionals dedicated to improving the lives of others.