ATC Physician Selection
Physicians for ATC Treatment
Points To Consider
Physicians for ATC Treatment
ATC patients need
prompt treatment based on current knowledge about ATC. This section
gives general comments about physician selection, together with some
specific points to consider, plus lists of sources for finding physicians.
Treating ATC usually
involves a team of physicians, with one physician as the team leader.
The ATC treatment team may include an endocrinologist, surgeon, radiation
oncologist (for external beam radiation), and medical oncologist (for
It is important
that physicians treating ATC are willing to quickly consult other physicians
with known experience in dealing with ATC, in order to develop rapid
and useful treatment plans.
Patients and caregivers
need physicians who know with whom to consult for their expertise in
ATC, and who know how to stay ahead of the disease course.
It’s also important
that the physician be willing to answer, with honesty and compassion,
patients’ and caregivers’ questions about their experience with ATC.
The physician team should not remove the patient’s hope.
Ideally, there would
be a great statistical database resource of doctors who have treated
ATC. But, we have not found such a resource. And, it isn't clear what
the measure of success should be.
We don't believe
that patient length of life is the only measure of success for ATC treatment.
Quality of life in treatment is also important.
Three ATC survivors
in ThyCa’s Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer E-Mail Support Group have generously
contributed their doctor lists. In a section below, we include links
to this list and other lists. However, we suggest that patients and
caregivers use physician lists with caution.
are not a useful resource for many people who are seeking physicians.
Research papers are difficult for many to access. In addition, they
can be difficult to understand, because they are written for professionals
with extensive medical training. Also, there are terrific doctors who
are not published.
We must remember
how alone the newly ATC diagnosed patients feel. We believe that it
is important to have resource lists that include research physicians
who have authored the literature, but are broader. That way, the people
thrust into this disease have a starting point. We all know that there
isn't time to pick up the yellow pages and make a lot of telephone calls
to find a physician capable of dealing with ATC.
- Patients and
caregivers need to know which physicians are knowledgeable and experienced
in treating ATC, as a starting point for those newly diagnosed. Time
urgency is so critical in ATC treatment that families need to reach
those with expertise as quickly as possible.
- The list should
include both clinical physicians (those who see patients) and ATC
researchers (those with whom clinical physicians may consult).
- Some physicians
involved with ATC care are both clinicians and researchers. Others
have colleagues in the same centers who are involved in research.
Physicians learn from each other through their medical journals, meetings,
consultations regarding particular patients, and informal communications.
- There are terrific
clinicians who are not published authors.
- A doctor who
has treated someone who has survived ATC might be a good candidate
for treating someone newly diagnosed, but past outcomes do not guarantee
future outcomes. Each patient is an individual. Additionally, ATC
presents differently for each patient.
- A doctor who
has seen many ATC patients might be a better candidate than one who
has seen few ATC patients.
- A doctor who
has never seen ATC is probably a poor candidate for treating those
newly diagnosed. Part of the reason is that ATC requires a quick and
accurate diagnosis. In our experience, this isn’t often the case with
an inexperienced ATC physician.
- A doctor treating
ATC must be open to reviewing the latest research literature and discussing
treatment options with both ATC researchers and experienced ATC clinicians.
- Patient length
of life is only one of the important outcome indicators for ATC treatment.
The quality of life is another important factor.
- There is no current
rating or experience tracking system or database in place to help
a patient choose a doctor to help treat ATC.
Here are four lists.
- ThyCa’s Medical Advisory Council Members, and their colleagues in
their centers and other centers.
ThyCa receives input from all our medical advisors, as well as from
many additional specialists. For some ATC patients an endocrinologist
may the specialist who manages overall ATC treatment, making referrals
to other specialists as needed. For other ATC patients, a medical
oncologist may manage the care. The endocrinologists on this list
and other lists can refer you to medical oncologists.
- Speakers at past ThyCa Conferences and Workshops.
Our conferences are held in different areas of the USA each year.
ThyCa rotates speakers to introduce survivors and caregivers to a
broad array of experts on thyroid cancer. Each year, from 20 to 30
leading physicians participate in the ThyCa conference. Speakers include
endocrinologists, medical oncologists, surgeons, and other specialists.
- Specialists on Professionals’ Lists.
ThyCa’s web site has a page titled Find a Thyroid Specialist. It has
links to four leading medical organizations that have geographic lists
of thyroid and thyroid cancer specialists on their web sites. Ask
any physician you contact about their experience with ATC.
- Physicians of ATC Survivors in ThyCa’s ATC E-Mail Support Group.
To receive messages from this free group, follow the instructions
for joining, on this page: http://www.thyca.org/atcgroup.htm
Three of the long-term ATC survivors in this group send a monthly
e-mail message with the names of physicians who treated them. Other
group members who are long-term ATC survivors or caregivers of long-term
ATC survivors also take part in this group. These participants invite
patients and caregivers to contact them through the ATC E-mail Support
Group list if they have any questions or just need to talk. As Trish,
one of the long-term ATC survivors, says, “We feel blessed that we
are here today and want to help others out there who have this terrible
March 23, 2006