Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis Talking To Your Doctor

For many people, talking with doctors is not an easy task, even for small ailments. But when the doctor is an oncologist and you’re talking about your own or a loved one’s thyroid cancer diagnosis, it can seem overwhelming. Even though talking about thyroid cancer may feel intimidating, working with your doctor as a partner will enable you to take charge of your health care. Before you begin discussions, it helps to know what steps to take.

How Much Thyroid Cancer Information Do You Want?

Talking about thyroid cancer can easily lead into some very technical discussions; determine for yourself how much detail you want. Learning a lot of medical terms and delving into the science of your disease could be helpful for some and overwhelming for others. Decide on the amount of information that’s right for you.

Choose Your Doctor of Cancer

As a cancer patient, you probably work with many doctors, but selecting one physician as the person you talk to most can be helpful. Often this is your primary care physician, but make sure you pick someone who has the sort of manner that meets your needs — whether it’s a friendly bedside manner or straightforward and to the point.

Make a list of Health Care Questions

It’s easy to forget things under the best of circumstances, but when you’re meeting with an oncologist to discuss health care for your thyroid cancer, your memory could easily short-circuit. So make lists every time you go to see your doctor, and ask plenty of questions about:

  • Hormone replacement
  • Medications
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence possibilities
  • Spread of cancer
  • Surgery and other treatment options
  • Types of cancer.

This just scratches the surface of the types of questions you might want to ask your doctor. Other than technical questions about your disease, you can also ask about any feelings you may be having, both physical and emotional.

Get the Health Care Answers You Need

It’s extremely important to write down your doctor’s responses and make sure you understand them. Ask for literature or pamphlets on thyroid cancer. Many cancer patients bring support people to their doctor visits to be certain they leave with the information they need.

Don’t be Afraid to Talk About Your Thyroid Cancer Fears

Even though thyroid cancer has a very high cure rate, dealing with cancer of any kind can be frightening in many ways. Ask your doctor about how cancer will affect your life, even if it feels embarrassing.

As you consider talking about thyroid cancer with your doctor, remember that any question you have is a question worth asking, no matter how small or silly it might seem; every question is important. Your doctor is there to help you, and establishing clear and direct communication will benefit everyone.

Resources

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Staff. (2002). Quick tips — When talking with your doctor. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Web site: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/quicktips/doctalk.htm.

Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association Staff. (2006). Questions you may want to ask. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association Web site: http://www.thyca.org/questions.htm.

Painter, K. (2007). How to talk to a doctor. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from the USA TODAY Web site: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/painter/2007-12-02-your-health_N.htm.

American Cancer Society Staff. (2010). Talking with your doctor. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from the American Cancer Society Web site: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/eto_2_4_talkingwithyourdoctor.asp.