Self-management

Coping and support

A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be frightening. You might feel as if you aren't sure what to do next.

Everyone eventually finds his or her own way of coping with a cancer diagnosis. Until you find what works for you, consider trying to:

  • Find out enough about thyroid cancer to make decisions about your care. Write down the details of your thyroid cancer, such as the type, stage and treatment options. Ask your doctor where you can go for more information. Good sources of information to get you started include the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the American Thyroid Association.
  • Connect with other thyroid cancer survivors. You might find comfort in talking with people in your same situation. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area. Or connect with thyroid cancer survivors online through the American Cancer Society Cancer Survivors Network or the Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association.
  • Control what you can about your health. You can't control whether or not you develop thyroid cancer, but you can take steps to keep your body healthy during and after treatment. For instance, eat a healthy diet full of a variety of fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep each night so that you wake feeling rested, and try to incorporate physical activity into most days of your week.

Prevention

Doctors aren't sure what causes most cases of thyroid cancer, so there's no way to prevent thyroid cancer in people who have an average risk of the disease.

Prevention for people with a high risk

Adults and children with an inherited gene mutation that increases the risk of medullary thyroid cancer are often advised to have thyroid surgery to prevent cancer (prophylactic thyroidectomy). Discuss your options with a genetic counselor who can explain your risk of thyroid cancer and your treatment options.

Prevention for people near nuclear power plants

Fallout from an accident at a nuclear power plant could cause thyroid problems in people living nearby. If you live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant in the United States, you may be eligible to receive a medication (potassium iodide) that blocks the effects of radiation on the thyroid. If an emergency were to occur, you and your family could take the potassium iodide tablets to help prevent thyroid problems. Contact your state or local emergency management department for more information.