54% of Surgeons and Endocrinologists tell Patients they have “The Good Cancer”

An editorial was published on April 7th, 2016 in Future Oncology about possible Interventions to improve quality of life for Thyroid Cancer Survivors.  The Authors, Raymon Grogan, Briseis Aschebrook Kilfoy, and Peter Angelos; of the University of Chicago write that they polled a group of 105 Thyroid Cancer Specialists and 54% had responded that they used the term “Good Cancer” when counseling their patients about the disease.  Although the data is still under review, the authors suggest the reason so many specialists use this phrasing is the good prognosis of thyroid cancer.

The editorial goes on to state that they can think of no other disease state where physicians “congratulate” the patient.  Additionally, they point out that 3% of thyroid cancer patients do not survive five years, and up to 30% can expect to get a recurrence, depending on how risk groups are stratified.  Certainly, it must be especially distressing for those suffering recurrences or facing death from this disease to hear it designated by medical professionals as being “good”.

Striking also is the fact that other cancers also have very high survival rates, especially in lower risk groups. For example, the five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 99%,  and overall for prostate cancer, is “nearly 100%“.  Yet for some unknown  reason, thyroid cancer is singled out as being “The Good Cancer”.  Grogan et al suggest in their editorial that physicians should be more specific with patients about survival rates and recurrence statistics instead of using the generalization “good.”