The Road Less Travelled
Thyroid cancer is one of the most rapidly increasing cancers in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates that there have been 43,800 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2022 alone. At Private Health Management (PHM), we see the real-life effects of this disease and we work with our patients to manage the complex care issues that come with a cancer diagnosis.
In 2018, we met Kathy — an active woman in her 60s battling an aggressive form of thyroid cancer that had spread to her lungs.
The typical treatment for thyroid cancer is radioactive iodine. The thyroid absorbs nearly all the iodine in our body and radioactive iodine works as a targeted therapy providing a treatment that directly hits the tumor. For most patients, iodine is not overly abundant in the body and is present at safe levels. That wasn’t the case for Kathy. She had an excess of iodine in her system, which meant she needed to find another therapy – and quickly.
An important first step was to address why Kathy’s body was accumulating iodine. PHM identified that a medication called amiodarone was the cause. The medication was adjusted to reduce the iodine levels, but her Personal Care Team knew that the change would take time and immediate action was required to treat her aggressive cancer. PHM worked with her physician to find an innovative treatment for her cancer and Kathy was enrolled in a promising clinical study combining two impactful drugs. This combination was supported by molecular diagnostics performed on Kathy’s tumor tissue.
Notably, Kathy also has Lynch syndrome — an inherited genetic condition which increases cancer risk, but also increases the effectiveness of some immunotherapy treatments. This not only supported her clinical trial combination but also helped point to additional options if needed in the future, ranging from new combinations of therapies to the use of cancer vaccines.
Kathy’s case has demonstrated how important it is to stay ahead of disease while exploring options that are outside of typical care. Though her path diverged from the standard of care, PHM built a bridge that allows her to continue effective treatments, circle back to standard therapies, and unlock new alternatives.
Throughout her treatment, Kathy has faced obstacles, but she has maintained a positive outlook and has been a strong advocate for herself and her health. Kathy is best described as a happy woman and her cancer hasn’t changed that. In spite of her illness, she has remained curious, courageous, and willing to do what is necessary to regain her health. With PHM at her side, Kathy is navigating a disease and treatment that has been anything but typical, and she knows that having a flexible plan is vital to beating her cancer. PHM is developing that plan using the latest science-backed health insights and connecting her with top experts who understand her disease.
Kathy’s story is a reminder that individual history and circumstances play a significant role in how a disease progresses and what treatments are best. Thanks to the best-in-class advice and insights, Kathy is able find answers to the complex health issues she’s facing today, so she can plan for tomorrow.
* Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.