Endocrine Abstracts (2007) 13 S63

The thyroid cancer patient journey and the role of the clinical nurse specialist

Julie Hewett


South Devon Healthcare Trust, Torquay, Devon, United Kingdom.


Introduction: Thyroid carcinomas are uncommon, accounting for approximately 1% of all new malignant disease. They include a wide range of disease types, of these 65% of thyroid cancers are papillary with a peak incidence in the 30–40 year age group and women are 2–3 times more frequently affected than men. Follicular cancer accounts for 30%, which occurs mainly in the 50+ age group. Another 4% are medullary thyroid carcinoma which occurs equally in men and women. Anaplastic carcinoma, thyroid lymphomas or other rare tumours account for the remainder. Increased age at diagnosis and widespread metastases are associated with poor prognosis whatever the type of cancer.

The MDT: Coordination of care should be managed by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach, including Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) who will provide information to the patient and carers regarding diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis. The CNS performs a pivotal role in communicating with and liaising between the various members of the Thyroid Multidisciplinary Team.

The cancer journey: Managing thyroid cancer is challenging; there are Clinical Guidelines published which provide clear management pathways against current best practice evidence (The British Association of Thyroid & Endocrine Surgeons, British Thyroid Association).

Post treatment and quality of life: The effects of surgery, radioiodine treatments and life-long drug treatments can adversely affect a patient’s overall quality of life and wellbeing. Published data shows quality of life scores among thyroid cancer patients after surgery are similar to those among people with chronic conditions.

This presentation will, with available supporting literature, discuss the role played by the CNS in enhancing patients understanding, initiating psychosocial support mechanisms and thereby improving quality of life; illustrated through patients’ experiences of their ‘cancer journey’.

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