So what is all this "good cancer" business all about anyway?
Typically, the "good cancer" label is one that some doctors use, because many types of thyroid cancer are highly survivable. According to the American Cancer Society, the following are 5-year relative survival rates for the three common types of thyroid cancer, and Stage I, II and III:
- Papillary thyroid cancer: Stage I - 100%, II - 100%, III - 93%
- Follicular thyroid cancer: Stage I - 100%, II - 100%, III - 71%
- Medullary thyroid cancer: Stage I - 100%, II - 98%, III - 81%
Yes, statistically, thyroid cancer is, in comparison "the good cancer." And while the survival rates for most forms of thyroid cancer are very encouraging, and offer hope for recuperation and a cancer-free life for most people who are diagnosed, it's still common for patients to feel frightened, angry, confused, and even shocked to have any type of "cancer."
Thyroid cancer patients need to deal with a number of life-changing issues. Most thyroid cancer patients will require surgery, radioactive iodine treatment, periodic scanning for recurrence, and a lifetime of thyroid hormone replacement medication to treat the hypothyroidism that results from having the thyroid surgically removed. To then be told that this cancer is "good" when you're in the midst of coping with thyroid cancer treatment and its aftermath feels denigrating and callous to some patients.
I have an idea. Maybe the medical community can change their terminology: instead of saying thyroid cancer is the "good cancer," how about "thyroid cancer usually has a good prognosis?"
What do you think? If you are a thyroid cancer survivor, have it now, or know someone with thyroid cacner, what are your thoughts about it being called "The Good Cancer?" Take our "Thyroid Cancer: The Good Cancer?" Poll now.
Statistics: American Cancer Society