21: Diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and You Say No to Surgery with Dr. Louise Davies

Louise Davies,

MD, MS, FACS is an Associate Professor at Geisel School of Medicine
and Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice (TDI).

She is Chief, Otolaryngology at Veterans Administration, White River Jct., VT
Dr. Davies is an otolaryngologist – head & neck surgeon whose thyroid related research is aimed at defining and documenting the problem of rising thyroid cancer incidence and developing management approaches to the problem in ways that are safe and effective. Clinically, Dr. Davies cares for patients with both head and neck and thyroid cancer and general otolaryngology problems primarily at the VA hospital, with a limited practice at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Her career is defined by her goal of helping patients and physicians make good decisions for their cancer care by providing clear, helpful data in useful formats at the needed time and place.

You have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and contrary to your doctor’s advice, you choose to not proceed with surgery.  Is this a patient trend, and how often are patients making this decision?

In a qualitative analysis, Dr. Louise Davies reports on the experience of US patients who self-identify as having an over-diagnosed thyroid cancer.

How likely is death as result of thyroid cancer?  In a study by H. Harach, he sites that when reviewing random autopsies, thyroid cancer was prevalent in 34% of the cadavers.

Dr. Davies states, if diagnosed with thyroid cancer, important questions to ask, include:

  • How big is the tumor?
  • How was the tumor discovered?
  • Are there any symptoms?

Dr. Davies says those who choose to opt for no surgery are sometimes called stupid by those who know them, and end up feeling isolated and anxious, with little or no support.

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