A cancer diagnosis can have psychological consequences that persist even once the cancer has been successfully treated. For some individuals, it can take years before regaining a former sense of confidence in one’s health.
When a patient has a history of thyroid cancer, any new symptoms arising, such as a sore throat developing due to a common cold, may cause them to be nervous and frightened. It is useful to discuss these concerns with a physician, in order to obtain an assessment and grant reassurance.
Occasionally, patients will have their confidence in their own health disrupted by the diagnosis of thyroid cancer and may have significant ongoing anxiety that they do not wish to share with others, as they “don’t wish to complain or be a nuisance to friends or family”. It is helpful to acknowledge that these concerns are very common and constitute a normal reaction to the diagnosis of cancer. Discussion of the excellent prognosis and of the treatment process, along with ongoing reassurance and support, usually leads to a progressive diminution in anxiety, increase in confidence and a gradual return to a more normal life. (1)
It is also important to remember that the thyroid gland plays an important role in hormone regulation, meaning that mental disruptions are not uncommon in thyroid cancer, especially following surgery. One study found that following removal of thyroid gland for cancer, patients were more anxious and depressed and had more problems with attention and executive function. (2) In any case, it is always useful to discuss your anxieties with a professional, who may be able to provide reassurance. There are also many thyroid cancer support groups in existence, where you can read others’ stories while also sharing your own. (3)
(1) “Psychological Impact of a Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis”, Mythyroid.com. http://mythyroid.com/psychologicalimpact.html
(2) “Thyroid Deficiency and Mental Health”, Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/thyroid-deficiency-and-mental-health
(3) “Patient Support – Community Support”, Thyroid Cancer Canada. https://www.thyroidcancercanada.org/en/patient-support/community-support