It's the "Good" Cancer, So Who Cares? Perceived Lack of Support Among Young Thyroid Cancer Survivors

Julie Easley

Baukje Miedema

Lynne Robinson

social support, young adult cancer survivors
ONF 2013, 40(6), 596-600. DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.596-600

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the survivorship experience of young adult patients with thyroid cancer.

Research Approach: A qualitative, descriptive study.

Setting: Four Canadian provinces, with most participants from Ontario.

Participants: 12 young adult thyroid cancer survivors who participated in a larger study on follow-up care needs consisting of 55 young adult cancer survivors.

Methodologic Approach: Telephone interviews were conducted with cancer survivors who were diagnosed from age 18-39 years and were 1-5 years post-treatment.

Findings: All 12 thyroid cancer survivors discussed the feeling that their cancer experiences often were downplayed because thyroid cancer is labeled as the "good" cancer. Many said that they were not considered real patients with cancer by healthcare providers and other patients with cancer, and they were unable or unwilling to access support programs or assistance from healthcare providers.

Conclusions: Cancer can have an impact on a person's life regardless of the prognosis. Being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a young age can pose additional challenges because of the lack of available support to address needs specific to young adults.

Interpretation: Healthcare providers must recognize the needs of thyroid cancer survivors and encourage them to access supportive services.

Knowledge Translation: Patients with thyroid cancer believe that their needs often are overlooked because of high survival rates, and they have difficulty accessing support resources and finding help. Young adults with cancer often have unique support needs. Support needs may not be the same for all young adult patients with cancer, and those needs should be recognized and addressed.

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