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The Importance of Thyroid Cancer Follow-up Care: What to Expect

May 16, 2023
Physician places hands on patient’s throat to examine thyroid gland

As with other cancers, thyroid cancer requires follow-up care after treatment. The thyroid gland helps to regulate our metabolism, including heart rate, body temperature, and levels of calcium found in the blood. Even though thyroid cancer treatment is usually successful, it’s important to continue making regular appointments with a physician.

Located on Staten Island, New York, Richmond University Medical Center offers diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for thyroid cancer. Here, we discuss what follow-up care for thyroid cancer looks like and why it’s so important for a patient’s recovery.

Why Are Thyroid Cancer Follow-up Appointments Important?

The best reason for regular follow-up appointments is that thyroid cancer can reoccur. This can happen years after the initial diagnosis and treatment. Patients who have received a thyroid cancer diagnosis must remain vigilant with regular checkups and tests. Also, patients who have had their thyroid gland wholly or partially removed are usually prescribed oral medications to help regulate metabolism, and the medication level and bodily response must be monitored and readjusted periodically.

The medications may also help suppress thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and higher doses may be prescribed if the thyroid cancer was extensive. Through a physical exam and testing, physicians who specialize in endocrinology watch for new signs of thyroid cancer or the development of secondary cancer.

What Can Thyroid Cancer Patients Expect During Follow-up?

Follow-up appointments after thyroid cancer treatment may be scheduled as frequently as every six months, especially right after treatment is completed. The exact number of follow-up visits and tests per year will depend on the circumstances of the individual patient, such as their age and overall health. The type and severity of the thyroid cancer and how it was treated are also factors considered when determining follow-up care. Patients should also continue with their regular annual exams and other recommended cancer screening tests.

Here are some of the tests patients can expect during follow-up appointments after thyroid cancer treatment:

  • Manual, physical exam of the neck
  • Listening to the lungs
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Ultrasound, CT, and MRI imaging of the neck
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Full body scans
  • Breast cancer screening

Symptoms, Side Effects, and Long-Term Follow-up

Depending on the exact thyroid cancer diagnosis and how it was treated, patients may experience side effects, some of which may be long-term. The oncology team will explain any potential side effects so that patients can monitor and manage them. By keeping the nature of side effects related to treatment in mind, patients are better able to watch for new thyroid cancer symptoms. The combined vigilance of physicians and patients leads to catching any new cancer sooner, which can increase the chances of better outcomes through earlier diagnosis and fast action.

Contact Thyroid Cancer Experts at Richmond University Medical Center

The stress of a cancer diagnosis and the resulting treatment can cause fatigue. At Richmond University Medical Center, we provide supportive, compassionate thyroid cancer care. Our experienced physicians fully explain the diagnosis and treatment options. Plus, we provide state-of-the-art follow-up appointments and testing to help patients recover more fully and minimize the chances of cancer returning. Our patients are encouraged to remain active despite any fatigue or side effects of treatment because when surviving cancer, physical activity can help. This philosophy encourages overall health, which is important for a full recovery.

If you are concerned about the condition of your neck or thyroid gland or experience unusual fatigue, make an appointment with the thyroid cancer experts at Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island, New York. Contact us today to schedule examinations, tests, and follow-up care.