Associate Professor Julie Miller
10 May 2016
News Category: 
Patient and health stories

Australia’s first public one-stop thyroid clinic is reducing waiting lists for patients being investigated for thyroid cancer.

Associate Professor Julie Miller in surgery

The clinic, developed by the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Endocrine Surgery service, now offers same day, surgeon-performed thyroid biopsy for patients, instead of having to return to the hospital weeks later.

Head of the Service, Associate Professor Julie Miller, said the clinic saves patient time, reduces anxiety and decreases the number of hospital visits.

“Thyroid nodules are very common, and account for the majority of referrals to the Endocrine Surgery Clinic,” Associate Professor Miller said.

“Patients come to clinic worried about whether their thyroid nodules could be cancer. Evaluation includes history and physical examination, thyroid ultrasound (US), and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) of any suspicious nodules to differentiate benign (non cancerous) nodules from cancer.

“The time from referral to definitive diagnosis is a time of heightened anxiety for most patients. We now provide thyroid FNA biopsy, in clinic, performed by the Endocrine Surgeons using a portable ultrasound machine,” Associate Professor Miller said. “This is a great example of everyone working together to give the patient the best experience we can.”

Thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer in Australia. Between 1982 and 2014, the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased by a dramatic
281%, from 2.7 to 10.3 per 100,000 persons.

In 2014, over 2,600 Australians were expected to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is the 7th most common cancer in females and
the 20th in males, and the most common cancer in adolescent and young adult females.

Associate Professor Miller added that in first nine months of the one-stop thyroid clinic, 110 sameday thyroid FNA biopsies were performed by the
Endocrine Surgery Service.

“We now provide thyroid FNA biopsy, in clinic, performed by the Endocrine Surgeons using a portable ultrasound machine,” Associate Professor Miller said.

“This service eliminates the waiting period for an appointment in radiology. Patients are provided with a diagnosis and plan (surgery or observation), weeks earlier than with the traditional model. The new service also reduces congestion in the Department of Radiology, allowing them to offer more timely appointments to patients from other clinics.

“By thinking a little differently and putting the needs of our patients first, we have been able to develop a service that gives our patients with a quicker diagnosis, reducing any unnecessary anxiety.”

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