Dr. David Goldstein & Dr. Anna Sawka
Closely Monitoring low-risk thyroid cancer
Surgery has long been the only available treatment option for thyroid cancer. Now, an active surveillance research study that originated in Japan 25 years ago could increase the options available to patients with low-risk thyroid cancer – small, slow-growing thyroid cancer that has a very low rate of spreading, causing death, or reoccurrence after treatment.
“Patients are much happier when they are very involved in the treatment decision-making and understand all the options.”
The Princess Margaret is leading the way as the first and only research site in Canada studying active surveillance in thyroid cancer. The approach involves closely monitoring low-risk thyroid cancer with pre-defined criteria for surgical intervention.
“In the past, physicians usually just prescribed treatment and patients were expected to follow it,” says Dr. David Goldstein, Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Anna Sawka on this study. “I think we're in a different era now and patients are much happier when they are very involved in the treatment decision-making and understand all the options.”
Thyroid cancer has undergone the most rapidly increasing incidence rate among all major cancers in Canada and around the world. But it also has one of the highest survival rates at 98 per cent for five years.
Drs. Goldstein and Sawka hope this approach to treatment could reduce the risk of test and treatment-related harm in low-risk thyroid cancers and improve quality of life by avoiding surgery and its potential complications and associated long-term effects.
The study began recruiting patients in May 2016 and will continue long-term monitoring until 2028, with up to 200 patients participating.