Free Thyroid Cancer Survivors Workshop with Five Physician Speakers To Be Held Saturday, May 18, 2019, in Silver Spring, Maryland

Physicians specializing in endocrinology, nuclear medicine, and surgery headline the upcoming 18th Annual Thyroid Cancer Workshop in the DC area, sponsored by ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., on Saturday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Holy Cross Hospital, 1500 Forest Glen Road, Silver Spring, Maryland. 

This event is free. Patients, caregivers, friends, and everyone interested are invited to come and learn from experts, get answers to questions about thyroid cancer care and research, and take part in discussion roundtables with other thyroid cancer survivors and families.   

Everyone interested is welcome to attend for all or part of the day. Walk-in attendees are welcome, or register online in advance. 

Physician speakers include: 

  • Vaninder K. Dhillon, M.D., Otolaryngologist, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bethesda, MD. 
    Topic: Talk with a surgeon about your thyroid cancer, including voice and swallowing issues.
  • Christiane J. Gomes Lima, M.D.Endocrinologist, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC.         
    Topic: Thyroid hormone therapy, testing, and dosing, including synthetic (T4), NDT, and T3. Can my lifestyle affect how I feel?
  • Jill M. Paulson, M.D., F.A.C.E., F.A.C.P., Endocrinologist, George Washington University, Washington, DC.
    Topic: Ask a doctor your questions about your long-term management, including how the latest ATA guidelines impact managing your care.
  • Leila Shobab, M.D., Endocrinologist, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC. 
    Topic: Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer: treatment and follow-up for different risk levels. 
  • Douglas Van Nostrand, M.D., Nuclear Medicine Physician, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC. 
    Topic: I-131 (radioactive iodine) therapy in thyroid cancer management. When is I-131 used/not used in treatment, dose decisions, preparation, and follow-up, and monitoring.

In addition to the physicians’ presentations and question-and-answer sessions on thyroid cancer care and research, the day will include discussion roundtables led by thyroid cancer survivors. Roundtable topics will include coping with thyroid cancer in the short and long term, stress and fears around testing and treatment, and complementary approaches for well-being. 

Host groups for this free event are ThyCa Support Groups: ThyCa Baltimore, ThyCa Northern Virginia, and ThyCa Washington, DC. 

Visit the ThyCa Conferences page for details and online registration.

For more information, emall or or phone 301-493-8810. 

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is an international nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization of thyroid cancer survivors, family members, and health care professionals, advised by internationally recognized thyroid cancer specialists and serving people worldwide since 1995. For more information e-mail to:; write to:  PO Box 1102, Olney, MD 20830-1102; call toll-free:  1-877-588-7904; or visit our website.


(Background Note: In November 2016, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a draft statement that recommended against thyroid screening through palpation or ultrasound.  USPSTF invited comments from the public through December 26, 2016.)

December 23, 2016

From: Gary Bloom, Executive Director. ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your draft statement.

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. strongly disagrees with the USPSTF recommendation against palpation to screen for thyroid nodules. ThyCa agrees with USPSTF on ultrasounds.

ThyCa urges neck palpation for all patients for the following reasons:

1. Thyroid cancer usually has no symptoms until it is very advanced at which time it is either difficult or impossible to treat successfully. Also, very few people have a history of high radiation exposure or family members with thyroid cancer. Therefore, early detection is crucial for saving the lives of patients who have medullary, anaplastic, and aggressive variants of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer.

2. Palpation/neck check is quick to do, using only the fingers as part of a regular appointment. It does not require special equipment. There is no additional cost to performing palpation. Nodules larger than 1 – 1.5 centimeters can be further analyzed to determine if cancer is present, and what type it is.

3. USPSTF’s recommendation against palpation means that very few patients will be diagnosed at an early stage with any type of thyroid cancer when cancer is more treatable, should active treatment be necessary.

4. USPSTF’s draft and background report barely mention medullary, anaplastic, and aggressive variants of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, instead focusing mainly on highly treatable papillary thyroid cancer.

5. The few treatments available for either high-risk or advanced metastatic thyroid cancers measure progression-free disease time rather than cure. This is different from other cancers, where multiple treatment choices are available. This lack of effective treatments makes early detection more critical in thyroid cancer, as the only way to save the lives of most of those who currently die of this disease.

6. Finding a nodule does not mean that treatment will always follow. The next step is to determine whether cancer is present, and, if so, what type. Following diagnosis, a decision can be made whether or not active treatment is needed. However, the USPSTF draft and background document focused far more on treatment than on the diagnostic step.

7. The Academy of General Dentistry currently recommends neck exams. These also find conditions other than thyroid nodules

8. The USPSTF statement about mortality is incorrect, for several reasons.

a. It uses a rounded off death rate (0.5).
b. It adds the adjective “about.”
c. It does not discuss why the thyroid cancer mortality rate is not declining, while many other cancers have declining mortality rates.
d. Most importantly, it omitted sources that explain that the death rate from thyroid cancer has actually increased in recent years in the United States. Deaths have increased faster than the population increase. The National Cancer Institute noted that mortality from thyroid cancer rose 0.8 % per year from 2002 to 2011.

Similarly, in 2015 Dana Farber Cancer Institute reported that “the mortality rate appears flat mainly because it was charted over a relatively long time – 35 years. Had it covered just the last 10 years, critics say, it would show that the death rate from thyroid disease is increasing faster than any other cancer except liver cancer.”

9. The USPSTF draft and background document acknowledge the limitations of the available research, and acknowledge that there is “inadequate evidence to assess the harms of screening.”

It is surprising that USPSTF would oppose palpation without proposing an alternative effective way to save lives.

We urge USPSTF to recommend palpation.

In a Washington Post feature on September 8, 2015, Robert Smallridge, M.D., of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida, says that patients often come to him very worried even though they’ve been told that thyroid cancer is the “good” cancer. This dichotomy often makes them feel that they’re not entitled to complain or even feel bad.

“They’re told they’re supposed to feel lucky, but they don’t. They have cancer,” says Dr. Smallridge, who is president of the American Thyroid Association.

Dr. Smallridge will speak at the 18th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference October 2-4, 2015, in St Louis, Missouri.

Read the complete article here.


January 23, 2015—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Natpara® (parathyroid hormone) as an adjunct to calcium and vitamin D to control hypocalcemia in patients with hypoparathyroidism. Hypoparathyroidism is a rare endocrine disorder characterized by insufficient levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH).

About three-quarters of the people with hypoparathyroidism had thyroid surgery, usually for thyroid cancer, and experienced loss or damage to their parathyroid glands, significantly affecting their calcium levels.

Natpara® is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2015 in the United States.

In Europe, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has validated and initiated its review of NPS Pharma’s marketing authorization application for Natpar™.

Natpara® is a bioengineered replica of human PTH. It is manufactured by NPS Pharma. It is recommended only for patients who cannot be well controlled on calcium supplements and active forms of vitamin D alone.

At the FDA hearing on Natpara® in 2014, ThyCa Executive Director Gary Bloom spoke in support of the FDA approval of Natpara®. Each ThyCa Conference has sessions on hypoparathyroidism, a challenging disorder requiring lifelong management.

ThyCa’s web site will add more information about Natpara® in the future.