Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How far should we be monitored?: #1 the side-effects we know?

Ok, so here it is. Probably the most research I've put into a post, rather than me just talking from my gut. This is going to be a multi-post topic, I don't know how many post just yet, but if you have had something that might be considered a side-effect, let me know and I'll dig up whatever else I can find. I also think it is important stuff for us to think about right now when lots of questions are flying around concerning the cost of healthcare and the idea of nationalizing healthcare; this will also tie in with advocacy and screening campaigns. Are we taking too many unnecessary tests? Or not enough? What costs more, preemptive screening, or finding a disease down the road? Should treatment just be limited to the disease; or should it be expanded to treat the side-effects of the treatment?

One of the biggest things I've notice when talking to other people about having cancer, is after a while, everyone has a similar type of question, "hey... have you had x start happening to you? Do you think it could be a side-effect?" The fact is, no one seems to actually know what they should count as a side-effect of cancer or cancer treatment v. a side-effect of life in general. And yeah, I'm definitely included in this group. I don't want to be a hypochondriac, paranoid every time I think something is off. But at the same time, being a run down law student, I know that I probably pass off far too many things as just being a part of my everyday life. It isn't comfortable to report every little thing to the doctor.

The goal of these posts is is to first, try to identify the side-effects of having thyroid cancer, be it from surgery or I-131. Then in following posts, I want to look at those side-effects and try and figure out if they are things we should have doctors monitor. Its sort of a proactive list; something to make me feel less crazy about my side-effects, but also something I can print up, take with me to the doctor and be like, "look I'm having issues, I've found other people w/ my same issues, maybe this is something we should check out... Or maybe there is a giant research grant in it for you for identifying something that no one usually notices." And I don't want to say this will make you an expert, and I don't want to become one of those patients who claims to know more than the doctors, but I like the idea of knowing, hey my TSH is normal but I still feel hypo, maybe my Vitamin D is off?

This is a list of side effects compiled for just a general google search for "side effects of I-131"... I don't repeat things already said... but with that said, you would be shocked to see how limited most of the lists are, and how many just copy and paste paragraphs from one another. The legal side of me cringes. If you learn nothing else, it needs to be that you should seriously run through these things with your doctor, and take internet knowledge with a grain of salt.

These symptoms are from: MedicineNet.com
*suppression of bone marrow, resulting in anemia
*acute leukemia
*reduction in red blood cells and platelets
*Radiation sickness, including:
*chest pain
*increased heart rate
*itchy skin
*Thyroid crisis (what on earth is thyroid crisis?)
*Inflammation of salivary glands
*Chromosomal Abnormalities (WTF, what does that even mean?)
* 3 days post treatment:
*neck tenderness and swelling
*pain w/ swallowing
*sore throat
*About 3 months post treatment:
*Hair thinning

*Thyroid hormone pills every day
*"There are essentially no other permanent side effects from the procedure." (HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA)

Women & Cancer Magazine
*allergic like reactions
*loss of taste
*increased risk of developing secondary malignancy (somewhere else, I've read that post thyca is a significant increase of then specifically getting melanoma)

Care First Blue Cross Blue Sheild

*Changes in weight
*excessive sweating or intolerance to heat
*feeling depressed
*unusually tired or weak

Side Effects of High Dose Radioactive Iodine for Ablation or Treatment of Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma
*Ok, for this one you should just click the link and read what it says. Its probably the most comprehensive listing of side effects, even has charts and things, and descriptions... its only a few pages, and goes over in detail a lot of things already said, I'll point out some important ones
* Larcamal Glands, aka dry eyes/tear ducts sort dry up (which actually results in watery eyes)

Other side-effects of losing your thyroid; this list is mainly composed of things I've learned at thyca support meetings and conerences, along with reading a lot of discussion on facebook and PlanetCancer.
* memory loss
* hypothyoidism
* prone to getting sicker (not so much sick more often, just worse when you do get sick)
* calcium deficiencies
* damaged vocal nerves
* damaged parathyroids
* Vitamin D deficiency
* Sex drive mood swings
* Irregular periods
* Early menopause

And I think that covers more or less the entire gamit of things. For the next few posts, I essentially plan on tackling these things like a hypochondriac. I acknowledge now, not everything I'm going to suggest is necessarily feasible. Its more of, "in an ideal world where all health coverage were free, and ensuring good health and quality of life where the most important thing..." So chime in if you have something to add, and as we go through I'd also really like to hear from non-thyca patients about why you think doctors should be monitoring.

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

How about all the symptoms of hyperthyroidism that come along with suppression and swings in dosages while they try to titrate? For me it's been awful: racing heart rate, chest pain, fainting, low blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, bulging eyes.