Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Thyroid Cancer
Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
It is important to talk with your doctor or care team about your health history and health goals. Open and regular communication will help manage care and let you take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your care team:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for an explanation, if needed.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider
About Your Risk of Developing Thyroid Cancer
- Do I have any specific risk factors for thyroid cancer?
- Is my family history important? Should I have genetic studies?
- How much of a risk of developing thyroid cancer do I face?
- Are there any risk factors that I can change?
About Thyroid Cancer
- What exactly is thyroid cancer?
- What parts of the body are involved?
- What makes you think I might have thyroid cancer?
- Could you explain the tests I need?
- How accurate are the test results?
- When do you recommend screening in my children?
- Do any of the laboratory tests help predict my prognosis or chance of relapse?
About Treatment Options
- What kinds of treatments are appropriate for me?
- Will I need more than one type of treatment?
- How long will my treatments last?
- What are the potential side effects/complications of the treatments?
- What is the chance that the recommended treatments will cure my thyroid cancer?
- How will we know whether the treatments have been effective or not?
- While I’m receiving treatment for thyroid cancer, will I be able to participate in my usual activities?
- What are some ways to help minimize the complications from surgery, radiation therapy, or hormonal treatment?
About Lifestyle Changes
- What kinds of lifestyle changes will make my body stronger and healthier so that I can work with the treatments to fight thyroid cancer?
- What kinds of lifestyle changes might make me more comfortable while I’m going through treatments?
- Do you have recommendations for any support groups for me and my family?
- How extensive is my cancer?
- Is it confined to the thyroid, or is it elsewhere in my body as well?
- What kind of prognosis does my kind of thyroid cancer have?
- How do my other medical conditions affect my prognosis?
- Once I’ve completed treatments, what will we do to monitor whether the cancer returns?
- Are there any implications for my family members regarding their risk of thyroid cancer?
Questions to ask your doctor about cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/questions. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Talking with your doctor. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/cancer-control/en/booklets-flyers/talking-with-your-doctor-english-pdf.pdf. Updated November 17, 2015. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/23/2020