Spearheaded by endocrine surgeon Jacob Moalem, M.D,. F.A.C.S., and Todd Chennell, M.S., A.N.P., a new support group for thyroid cancer survivors is being formed at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. The group will be affiliated with the national Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association (THYCA), which is dedicated to enhancing support, education, and communication for thyroid cancer survivors, their families and friends.
The first meeting of the new chapter will take place Monday, Nov. 7, at 6 p.m., in the Patient Resource Room located on the first floor of the Wilmot Cancer Center.
Thyroid cancer occurs far more frequently in women than men, and represents the sixth most common form of cancer in women. The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly 45,000 individuals were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2010, including 34,000 women. Trends also indicate that the incidence of thyroid cancer is on the rise.
While a highly treatable disease with one of the lower mortality rates among cancers, according to Moalem survivors are faced with a number of stressors fairly unique to their disease.
“Generally speaking, the prognosis for individuals with thyroid cancer is excellent, although there are several variants that carry a graver prognosis,” Moalem said. “However, these patients face very different stressors than many other patients with cancer, particularly related to the fact that recurrences are fairly common and can be discovered many, many years after their initial diagnosis. As a result, they require lifelong surveillance and relatively frequent testing which sometimes requires long periods of low-iodine diets, which is not particularly appetizing.”
Moalem first became aware of THYCA and its value as a resource to patients during his Fellowship at the University of California-San Francisco. While at UCSF, he trained under Orlo Clark, M.D., one of the fathers of endocrine surgery training in the United States. Moalem came to the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2007 and is the only endocrine-trained surgeon in western New York. Endocrine surgeons only perform procedures on the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands.
Because of his specialized background, Moalem feels a sense of responsibility to offer all that he can for the patients he serves, including bringing clinical trials related to thyroid cancer to URMC. He hopes to generate the necessary momentum to start the group and then serve as a resource as patients step up to run it.
No registration is necessary to attend the Nov. 7 meeting. For more information, please call the department of Endocrine Surgery at (585) 276-4633.