Pediatric and AYA Thyroid Cancer:
Finding the Right Endocrine Oncologist for Your Child
Endocrine oncologists are specialists that deal with endocrine malignancies. They are actively researching to find the cause and treatment of endocrine cancers. The right endocrine oncologist should provide your child with treatment options that not only offer the best prospect for survival but also give him or her every opportunity to resume normal life after dealing with thyroid cancer.
Don’t be afraid to discuss these topics with your child’s endocrine oncologist:
- Questions about your child’s future fertility
- Changes in physical appearance following the operation
- Hormone replacement therapy after thyroidectomy
- Long-term follow up after the operation
In addition to these usual concerns about thyroid cancer treatment and management, you can also ask your endocrine oncologist for advice on how you, as a parent, can help address the unique challenges that arise from caring for children and adolescents with thyroid cancer. Get their opinion on how you should answer your children’s question about mortality and what you can do to keep the child in high spirits. While this is not their area of specialization, endocrine oncologists have extensive experience in dealing with the same situation and they may help you achieve valuable insight on how you should handle your case.
Finally, the patient’s family should keep in mind that one of the hurdles in treating thyroid cancer in young children and AYA is the lack of communication or frequent misunderstanding between the doctor, the guardian, and the patient. Avoid this problem by always keeping an open line of communication, following up on any unclear advice and strictly adhering to your doctor’s instructions from the diagnosis to your child’s post-surgery follow up treatment.
About Thyroid Cancer in Pediatric and AYA Patients
Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine cancer in the pediatric population. It represents about 1 percent of all pediatric malignancies in children who have not yet reached puberty, and 7 percent in adolescents. The frequency of incidence increases by 1.1 percent every year. Thyroid cancer is one of the top five in adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers; first for female ages 15 to 29 and second for female ages 30 to 39. Currently, there are about 65,000 to 70,000 AYA cancers diagnosed in the USA every year, and this number is still increasing.
The Unique Challenges of Thyroid Cancer in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults
Having cancer at a young age gives rise to many challenges, especially because the thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that regulate important functions and processes such as metabolism and calcium absorption. In addition to the physical changes that come with the disease, young people have to adapt to shifts in family and peer groups and evolving sexual health and relationships. Their guardians and caretakers, on the other hand, are faced with a patient that is dealing with emerging self-awareness, feelings of invincibility and invulnerability, and questions about mortality.
Thyroid cancer in children and AYA raises many complex questions and situations that need the insight of experienced medical practitioners, especially that of your child’s endocrine specialists. At Providence Saint John’s Health Center, Our Endocrine Tumor and Bone Disease Program is headed by physician-scientists Dr. Melanie Goldfarb and Dr. Frederick Singer, who are both nationally recognized for advancing pediatric and AYA patient care through their work as clinicians and as part of various research programs.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you or your child, please get in touch with us today.
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