Questions to Ask About Thyroid Cancer

It is important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. They want to answer all of your questions, so that you can make informed treatment and life decisions. For instance, consider these questions:

When you’re told you have thyroid cancer

  • What kind of thyroid cancer do I have?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond the thyroid gland?
  • What is the stage of my thyroid cancerand what does that mean?
  • Is my cancer resectable (removable by surgery)?
  • Are there other tests that need to be done before we decide on treatment?
  • Is this form of thyroid cancer hereditary? Should I be tested? Should my family be tested?
  • Will I need to see other doctors?
  • If I’m concerned about the costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • How much surgery do I need? Should I get other treatments as well?
  • What are my treatment choices?
  • What do you recommend and why?
  • What is the goal of treatment?
  • Should I get a second opinion? How do I do that? Can you recommend a doctor or cancer center?
  • Should I think about taking part in a clinical trial?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of treatment?
  • How quickly do I need to decide on treatment?
  • Will I need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of my life?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
  • Will treatment affect my daily activities? Can I still work fulltime?
  • Will this treatment affect my ability to have children? Do I need to avoid pregnancy for a while?
  • What are the chances that my cancer will come back after treatment?
  • What will we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer recurs?
  • What if I have transportation problems getting to and from treatment?

During treatment

Once treatment begins, you’ll need to know what to expect and what to look for. Not all of these questions may apply to you, but getting answers to the ones that do may be helpful.

  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
  • How can I reach you on nights, holidays, or weekends?
  • Do I need to change what I eat during treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • Can I exercise during treatment? If so, what kind should I do, and how often?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or distressed?

After treatment

  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • What symptoms should I watch for?
  • What kind of exercise should I do now?
  • How often will I need to have follow-up exams and tests? Will I need any blood tests?
  • How will we know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
  • What will my options be if the cancer comes back?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?

Along with these sample questions, be sure to write down some of your own. Keep in mind that doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can answer some of your questions. To find out more about speaking with your health care team, see The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 14, 2019 Last Revised: March 14, 2019

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