I very rarely post anything about thyroid cancer. This is not because there are no papers (there are many), nor because it is not important, or interesting. No, it is simply because I feel so utterly ignorant.
This time, it isn't an almost unreadable investigation into the minutiae of some form of thyroid cancer. Rather it is a very direct questioning of the human aspects - both doctors and patients.
I'd be very interested in how those who have gone through thyroid cancer assess this abstract.
Thyroid. 2017 May 16. doi: 10.1089/thy.2016.0632. [Epub ahead of print]
PAPILLARY THYROID CANCER: THE GOOD AND BAD OF THE "GOOD CANCER".
Randle RW1, Bushman NM2, Orne J3,4, Balentine CJ5, Wendt E6, Saucke MC7, Pitt SC8, Macdonald CL9, Connor NP10, Sippel RS11.
1 University of Wisconsin, Department of Surgery, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; email@example.com.
2 University of Wisconsin, Department of Surgery, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Qualitative Health Research Consultants, Madison, Wisconsin, United States.
4 Drexel University, Department of Sociology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States ; email@example.com.
5 University of Alabama, Department of Surgery, Birmingham, Alabama, United States ; firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 University of Wisconsin, Department of Surgery, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; email@example.com.
7 University of Wisconsin, Department of Surgery, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; firstname.lastname@example.org.
8 University of Wisconsin, Department of Surgery, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; email@example.com.
9 Qualitative Health Research Consultants, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 University of Wisconsin, Department of Surgery, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; email@example.com.
11 University of Wisconsin, Department of Surgery, Madison, Wisconsin, United States ; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Papillary thyroid cancer is often described as the "good cancer" because of its treatability and relatively favorable survival rates. We sought to characterize the thoughts of papillary thyroid cancer patients as they relate to having the "good cancer."
This qualitative study included 31 papillary thyroid cancer patients enrolled in an ongoing randomized trial. We conducted semi-structured interviews with participants at the pre-operative visit and 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 6 months and 1 year after thyroidectomy. We used grounded theory, inductively coding the first 113 interview transcripts with NVivo 11.
The concept of thyroid cancer as "good cancer" emerged unprompted from 94% of participants (n=29), mostly concentrated around the time of diagnosis. Patients encountered this perception from healthcare providers, internet research, friends, and preconceived ideas about other cancers. While patients generally appreciated optimism, this perspective also generated negative feelings. It eased the diagnosis of cancer but created confusion when individual experiences varied from expectations. Despite initially feeling reassured, participants described feeling the "good cancer" characterization invalidated their fears of having cancer. Thyroid cancer patients expressed that they did not want to hear that it's "only thyroid cancer" and that it's "no big deal," because "cancer is cancer," and it is significant.
Patients with papillary thyroid cancer commonly confront the perception that their malignancy is "good," but the favorable prognosis and treatability of the disease do not comprehensively represent their cancer fight. The "good cancer" perception is at the root of many mixed and confusing emotions. Clinicians emphasize optimistic outcomes hoping to comfort, but might inadvertently invalidate the impact thyroid cancer has on patients' lives.