About Your Thyroid Surgery

This guide will help you get ready for your thyroid surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). It will also help you understand what to expect during your recovery.

Read through this guide at least once before your surgery and use it as a reference in the days leading up to your surgery.

About Your Surgery

About Your Thyroid Gland

Your thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of the front of your neck (see Figure 1). It consists of 2 lobes. Your thyroid produces hormones that control the way your body turns oxygen and calories into energy.

Lymph nodes are small oval or round structures found throughout your body. They make and store cells that fight infection.

Your parathyroid glands lie behind your thyroid. They produce a hormone that helps to maintain the level of calcium in your blood.

Removing Your Thyroid Gland

During your thyroid surgery, all or part of your thyroid gland will be removed. The surgery is done through an incision (surgical cut) in the lower part of the front of your neck. Your surgeon will examine the whole thyroid gland. They will decide how much of your thyroid needs to be removed and will check the lymph nodes that lie next to your thyroid.

  • If half of your thyroid is removed, it’s called a lobectomy or hemi-thyroidectomy.
  • If your entire thyroid is removed, it’s called a total thyroidectomy.

Your surgery will take 2 to 3 hours.

Figure 1. Your thyroid gland

Nerve Injuries During Your Thyroid Surgery

There are 2 nerves around your thyroid gland that help your larynx (voice box) work. These nerves are called the recurrent laryngeal nerve and the superior laryngeal nerve. They may be affected during your thyroid surgery.

Recurrent laryngeal nerve

Your recurrent laryngeal nerve goes behind your thyroid to your voice box. If your tumor is close to this nerve or if this nerve is injured during your surgery, your vocal cords (2 bands of tissue in your voice box that help you speak) could be damaged. This can make your voice hoarse. Voice hoarseness is common after thyroid surgery and usually goes away with time.

If the hoarseness in your voice doesn’t get better, you will need to have a procedure to have your throat checked. You may also need to see a laryngologist (voice doctor).

There are different ways to improve your voice if your recurrent laryngeal nerve is injured, including surgery or an injection (shot) into your vocal cord. Your doctor will talk with you about these options.

Before your thyroid surgery, your doctor will check your vocal cords to make sure your recurrent laryngeal nerve isn’t close to your tumor. If the tumor is large or close to your nerve, your risk of nerve injury is much higher. While this is rare, it may lead to problems with your vocal cords.

Superior laryngeal nerve

Your superior laryngeal nerve helps you raise your voice. If this nerve gets weak or injured, the pitch and tone of your voice can be affected. This may make it hard for you to raise your voice or sing. Some nerve injury is common after thyroid surgery and will go away with time. If your voice doesn’t get better, you will need to have a procedure to have your throat checked.

After your surgery, your doctor will check your airway. If you have any changes in your voice or breathing, you may need to have your throat checked. If this happens, your doctor will give you more information.

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Before Your Surgery

The information in this section will help you get ready for your surgery.

Read through this section when your surgery is scheduled and refer to it as your surgery date gets closer. It contains important information about what you need to do before your surgery.

Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

Preparing for Your Surgery

You and your healthcare team will work together to get ready for your surgery. Help us keep you safe during your surgery by telling us if any of the following statements apply to you, even if you aren’t sure.

  • I take a blood thinner. Some examples are aspirin, heparin, warfarin (Coumadin®), clopidogrel (Plavix®), enoxaparin (Lovenox®), dabigatran (Pradaxa®), apixaban (Eliquis®), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto®). There are others, so be sure your doctor knows all the medications you’re taking.
  • I take prescription medications (medications prescribed by a doctor), including patches and creams.
  • I take over-the-counter medications (medications I buy without a prescription), including patches and creams.
  • I take dietary supplements, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies.
  • I have a pacemaker, automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD), or other heart device.
  • I have sleep apnea.
  • I have had a problem with anesthesia (medication to make you sleep during surgery) in the past.
  • I am allergic to certain medication(s) or materials, including latex.
  • I am not willing to receive a blood transfusion.
  • I drink alcohol.
  • I smoke.
  • I use recreational drugs.

About Drinking Alcohol

The amount of alcohol you drink can affect you during and after your surgery. It’s important to talk with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink. This will help us plan your care.

  • Stopping alcohol suddenly can cause seizures, delirium, and death. If we know you’re at risk for these complications, we can prescribe medication to help prevent them.
  • If you drink alcohol regularly, you may be at risk for other complications during and after your surgery. These include bleeding, infections, heart problems, and a longer hospital stay.

Here are things you can do to prevent problems before your surgery:

  • Be honest with your healthcare provider about how much alcohol you drink.
  • Try to stop drinking alcohol once your surgery is planned. If you develop a headache, nausea, increased anxiety, or can’t sleep after you stop drinking, tell your healthcare provider right away. These are early signs of alcohol withdrawal and can be treated.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you can’t stop drinking.
  • Ask us any questions you have about drinking and surgery. As always, all of your medical information will be kept confidential.

About Smoking

People who smoke can have breathing problems when they have surgery. Stopping even for a few days before surgery can help. If you smoke, your nurse will refer you to our Tobacco Treatment Program. You can also reach the program at 212-610-0507.

About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, the airway becomes completely blocked during sleep. It can cause serious problems during and after surgery.

Please tell us if you have sleep apnea or if you think you might have it. If you use a breathing machine (such as a CPAP) for sleep apnea, bring it with you the day of your surgery.

Within 30 Days of Your Surgery

Presurgical Testing (PST)

Before your surgery, you will have an appointment for presurgical testing (PST). The date, time, and location of your PST appointment will be printed on the appointment reminder from your doctor’s office.

You can eat and take your usual medications the day of your PST appointment.

During your appointment, you will meet with a nurse practitioner (NP) who works closely with anesthesiology staff (doctors and specialized nurses who will give you anesthesia during your surgery). Your NP will review your medical and surgical history with you. You will have tests, including an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check your heart rhythm, a chest x-ray, blood tests, and any other tests needed to plan your care. Your NP may also recommend you see other healthcare providers.

Your NP will talk with you about which medications you should take the morning of your surgery.

It’s very helpful to bring the following things to your PST appointment:

  • A list of all the medications you’re taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, patches, and creams.
  • Results of any tests done outside of MSK, such as a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram, or carotid doppler study.
  • The name(s) and telephone number(s) of your doctor(s).

Identify Your Caregiver

Your caregiver plays an important role in your care. You and your caregiver will learn about your surgery from your doctor and nurse. After your surgery, your caregiver should be present for the discharge instructions so they’re able to help you care for yourself at home. Your caregiver will also need to take you home after your surgery.

Complete a Health Care Proxy Form

If you haven’t already completed a Health Care Proxy form, we recommend you complete one now. A health care proxy is a legal document that identifies the person who will speak for you if you’re unable to communicate for yourself. The person you identify is called your health care agent.

If you’re interested in completing a Health Care Proxy form, talk with your nurse. If you have completed one already, or if you have any other advance directive, bring it to your next appointment.

Do Breathing and Coughing Exercises

Practice taking deep breaths and coughing before your surgery. You will be given an incentive spirometer to help expand your lungs. For more information, read the resource How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer. If you have any questions, ask your nurse or respiratory therapist.

Exercise

Try to do aerobic exercise every day. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking at least 1 mile (1.6 kilometers), swimming, or biking. If it’s cold outside, use stairs in your home or go to a mall or shopping market. Exercising will help your body get into its best condition for your surgery and make your recovery faster and easier.

Follow a Healthy Diet

Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet before your surgery. If you need help with your diet, talk with your doctor or nurse about meeting with a dietitian.

Sign up for MyMSK

MyMSK is our patient portal. If you don’t have a MyMSK account, visit my.mskcc.org or call 646-227-2593 to sign up. For more information, talk with someone in your surgeon’s office or watch the video How to Enroll in the Patient Portal: MyMSK on our website, www.mskcc.org/pe.

10 Days Before Your Surgery

Stop Taking Vitamin E

If you take vitamin E, stop taking it 10 days before your surgery. Vitamin E can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

Purchase Supplies

You will need to have the following medications once you’re home after your surgery:

  • Calcium supplement such as calcium carbonate (Tums Ultra®)

7 Days Before Your Surgery

Stop Taking Certain Medications

If you take aspirin, ask your doctor if you should keep taking it. Aspirin and medications that contain aspirin can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

Stop Taking Herbal Remedies and Other Dietary Supplements

Stop taking herbal remedies and other dietary supplements 7 days before your surgery. If you take a multivitamin, ask your doctor or nurse if you should keep taking it. For more information, read the resource Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.

2 Days Before Your Surgery

Stop Taking Certain Medications

Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) and naproxen (Aleve®), 2 days before your surgery. These medications can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

1 Day Before Your Surgery

Note the Time of Your Surgery

A staff member from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your surgery. If you’re scheduled for surgery on a Monday, you will be called on the Friday before.

The staff member will tell you what time to arrive at the hospital for your surgery. They will also tell you where to go on the day of your surgery. If you don’t receive a call by 7:00 pm, please call 212-639-5014.

Sleep

Go to bed early and get a full night’s sleep.

Instructions for eating and drinking before your surgery

12 ounces of water
  • Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
  • Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of water (see figure).
  • Starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, do not eat or drink anything. This includes water.

The Morning of Your Surgery

Take Your Medications

If your doctor or NP instructed you to take certain medications the morning of your surgery, take only those medications with a sip of water. Depending on what medications you take and the surgery you’re having, this may be all, some, or none of your usual morning medications.

Things to Remember

  • Don’t put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne.
  • Remove nail polish and nail wraps.
  • Don’t wear any metal objects. Remove all jewelry, including body piercings. The equipment used during your surgery can cause burns if it touches metal.
  • Leave valuable items, such as credit cards, jewelry, or your checkbook, at home.
  • Before you’re taken into the operating room, you will need to remove your hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles.
  • Wear something comfortable and loose-fitting.
  • If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead. Wearing contact lenses during surgery can damage your eyes.

What to Bring

  • Your breathing machine for sleep apnea (such as your CPAP), if you have one.
  • Your portable music player, if you choose. However, someone will need to hold it for you when you go into surgery.
  • Your incentive spirometer.
  • Your Health Care Proxy form, if you have completed one.
  • Your cell phone and charger.
  • A case for your personal items, such as eyeglasses, hearing aid(s), dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles, if you have one.
  • This guide. Your healthcare team will use this guide to teach you how to care for yourself after your surgery.

Once You’ve Arrived In the Hospital

You will be asked to say and spell your name and birth date many times. This is for your safety. People with the same or similar names may be having surgery on the same day.

Get Dressed for Surgery

When it’s time to change for surgery, you will get a hospital gown, robe, and nonskid socks to wear.

Meet With Your Nurse

You will meet with your nurse before surgery. Tell your nurse the dose of any medications (including patches and creams) you took after midnight and the time you took them.

Your nurse may place an intravenous (IV) line into one of your veins, usually in your arm or hand. If your nurse doesn’t place the IV, your anesthesiologist will do it later once you’re in the operating room.

Meet With Your Anesthesiologist

Your anesthesiologist will:

  • Review your medical history with you.
  • Ask you if you’ve had any problems with anesthesia in the past, including nausea or pain.
  • Talk with you about your comfort and safety during your surgery.
  • Talk with you about the kind of anesthesia you will receive.
  • Answer questions you have about your anesthesia.
Prepare for Surgery

Once your nurse has seen you, 1 or 2 visitors can keep you company as you wait for your surgery to begin. When it’s time for your surgery, your visitor(s) will be shown to the waiting area.

You will either walk into the operating room or be taken in on a stretcher. A member of the operating room team will help you onto the operating bed. Compression boots will be placed on your lower legs. These gently inflate and deflate to help blood flow in your legs.

Once you’re comfortable, your anesthesiologist will give you anesthesia through your IV line and you will fall asleep. You will also get fluids through your IV line during and after your surgery.

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After Your Surgery

The information in this section will tell you what to expect after your surgery, both during your stay and after you leave. You will learn how to safely recover from your surgery. Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

What to Expect

When you wake up after your surgery, you will be in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) or your recovery room.

A nurse will be monitoring your body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. You will get oxygen through a thin tube that rests below your nose called a nasal cannula.

You may have a drain in your neck under your incision. It’s usually removed the day after surgery.

Your nurse will teach you how to recover from your surgery. Below are examples of ways you can help yourself recover safely.

  • Start moving around and walking as soon as you’re able to. Walking helps lower your risk for blood clots and pneumonia. It also helps to stimulate your bowels so they begin working again. Your nurse or physical therapist will help you move around. Your nurse will also give you medication to relieve pain.
  • Use your incentive spirometer. This will help your lungs expand, which prevents pneumonia. For more information, read the resource How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer.

Commonly Asked Questions: During Your Stay

Will I have pain?

You will have some pain after your surgery. Your doctor and nurse will ask you about your pain often and give you medication as needed. If your pain isn’t relieved, tell your doctor or nurse. It’s important to control your pain so you can use your incentive spirometer and move around.

You will be given pain medication through your intravenous (IV) catheter at first. When you can swallow liquids, you will get your pain medication by mouth. You will be given a prescription for a mild pain medication before you go home. You may want to take extra strength acetominophen (Extra Strength Tylenol®) instead. Talk with your doctor or nurse about possible side effects and when you should start switching to over-the-counter pain medications.

Will I be able to eat after surgery?

You can begin to take ice chips and liquids several hours after your surgery. It’s normal to feel some discomfort while you’re swallowing. You will slowly progress to a regular diet. There will be no dietary restrictions after the first night.

What side effects will I have after my surgery?

You may have temporary parathyroid dysfunction after your surgery. This means that your parathyroid glands may not make enough hormone to maintain the level of calcium in your blood. While this is temporary, it can cause hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia is when you don’t have enough calcium in your blood.

Hypocalcemia may cause numbness and tingling in your hands, feet, and around your mouth. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Your doctor will tell you if you have to take calcium supplements to help with this.

Commonly Asked Questions: At Home

Read the resource What You Can Do to Avoid Falling to learn about what you can do to stay safe and keep from falling at home and during your appointments at MSK.

Will I have pain when I am home?

The length of time each person has pain or discomfort varies. You may still have some pain when you go home.

Follow the guidelines below to help manage your pain at home.

  • Take your medications as directed and as needed.
  • Call your doctor if the medication prescribed for you doesn’t relieve your pain.
  • Don’t drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking prescription pain medication.
  • As your incision heals, you will have less pain and need less pain medication. An over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) will relieve aches and discomfort.
  • Follow your doctor or nurse’s instructions for stopping your prescription pain medication.
  • Don’t take more acetaminophen than the amount directed on the bottle or as instructed by your doctor or nurse. Taking too much acetaminophen can harm your liver.
  • Pain medication should help you resume your normal activities. Take enough medication to do your exercises comfortably. However, it’s normal for your pain to increase slightly as you increase your level of activity.
  • Keep track of when you take your pain medication. It works best 30 to 45 minutes after you take it. Taking it when your pain first begins is more effective than waiting for the pain to get worse.

Pain medication may cause constipation (having fewer bowel movements than what’s normal for you).

Can I shower?

You can shower 48 hours after your surgical drain is removed. If you don’t have a drain, you can shower 48 hours after your surgery.

Don’t tilt your head upwards during your shower for 4 weeks after your surgery. Let the water run over your incision line. Gently pat your incision dry with a clean towel or wash cloth. Call your doctor if you see any redness or drainage from your incision.

Don’t take tub baths until you discuss it with your doctor at the first appointment after your surgery.

How do I care for my incision?

Before you go home, your nurse will teach you how to care for your incision. These instructions will be written in the paperwork you will receive when you leave. In most cases, your staples or stitches will be removed during your first appointment with your doctor after your surgery.

By the time you’re ready to leave the hospital, your incision will have started to heal. Before you leave the hospital, look at your incision with your nurse and caregiver. Knowing what your incision looks like will help you notice any changes later.

The location of your incision will depend on the type of surgery you had. It’s normal for the skin below your incision to feel numb, because some of the nerves were cut. The numbness will go away over time.

If you go home with Steri-Strips on your incision, they will loosen and fall off by themselves. If you go home with Dermabond on your incision, it will also loosen and peel off by itself. If the Steri-Strips and Dermabond haven’t fallen off within 10 days, you may remove them..

What other medications will I need to take after surgery?

Thyroid hormone medication
If your entire thyroid gland was removed, you will need to take a medication to replace the hormone your thyroid used to produce. You must take it every day for the rest of your life. There are many thyroid hormone medications. Levothyroxine (Levoxyl®, Synthroid®) is one example. For more information, read the resource Levothyroxine.

Your doctor will prescribe a thyroid hormone medication for you and tell you how much to take. You may also need blood tests to make sure you’re getting enough, but not too much of the medication. Your doctor will change the dose as needed.

Calcium supplements
If you have parathyroid dysfunction or hypocalcemia after your surgery, you may also need to take calcium supplements. You can buy them at your local pharmacy without a prescription. Ask your doctor how much you should take. If you’re taking calcium, your doctor may also want you to take vitamin D to help your body absorb it.

Calcium can cause constipation, especially while you’re also taking pain medication. If you think this might be a problem for you, talk with your nurse. A stool softener or laxative may be recommended.

When is it safe for me to drive?

You may resume driving 1 week after surgery as long as you feel comfortable turning your neck to look for traffic.

When can I lift heavy objects?

Ask your doctor when it’s safe for you to lift heavy objects after your surgery. Most people shouldn’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) for at least 6 weeks after surgery.

What exercises can I do?

Don’t use weights or machines on your upper body for at least 4 weeks after your surgery. You can do lower body exercises.

Doing aerobic exercise, such as walking and stair climbing, will help you gain strength and feel better. Gradually increase the distance you walk. Climb stairs slowly, resting or stopping as needed.

Ask your doctor or nurse before starting more demanding exercises.

What other restrictions will I have?

For at least 4 weeks after your surgery, don’t tilt your head backward (as in looking up at the ceiling). This pulls on your incision. You can move your neck from side to side and downward.

For the first year after your surgery, avoid having the sun on your incision site. Your doctor or nurse will tell you when it’s safe to use sunscreen, but it’s usually when your incision has closed completely.

How long will it take for me to recover?

You will notice a gradual return of energy in the weeks after surgery. Some people find that their energy level varies for a month or 2.

My incision feels tight, is that normal?

You may feel tightness along your incision as it heals. This feeling can come and go. It can last from a week to more than several months. It’s normal and you don’t need to worry about it. You may also have numbness at your incision site and in the surrounding area. This is also normal and will improve with time.

When is my first appointment after surgery?

Your first appointment after surgery will be 7 to 10 days after your surgery. Your nurse will give you instructions on how to make this appointment, including the phone number to call.

Your surgeon will check your incision. Your pathology report should be ready and your surgeon will discuss it with you. You will also talk about whether you need more treatment.

Will I need more treatment?

Many people will not need more treatment. However, if you have papillary thyroid cancer, you might need radioactive iodine therapy. Your healthcare team will talk with you to decide if this is the best treatment for you. Your team will include your surgeon, an endocrinologist, and a doctor from nuclear medicine. If you need radioactive iodine, your endocrinologist will talk to you about how the treatment is given.

Will I need special blood tests after my surgery?

You will have thyroid function tests beginning 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery. There are 2 tests: thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4). These tests will show whether you have the right amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. Your doctor or NP will use the results of these tests to adjust the amount of thyroid medication you take.

If you had your entire thyroid removed for papillary cancer, you will need to have a blood test called thyroglobulin 6 weeks after your surgery. You will have this blood test every year so that your doctor can look out for patterns in your results.

If you have medullary thyroid cancer, you will need to have blood tests called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and calcitonin 6 weeks after your surgery. You will have these blood tests every year so that your doctor can look out for patterns in your results.

What if I have other questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your doctor or nurse. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the doctor on call for your doctor.

call_your_doctor_nurse_if_you_have-en.png
  • A temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
  • Drainage from your incision
  • Trouble breathing
  • Warmer than normal skin around your incision
  • Increased discomfort in the area around your incision
  • Increased redness around your incision
  • New or increased swelling around your incision
  • Numbness, twitching, or tingling around your mouth, fingertips, or toes
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Resources

This section includes a list of MSK support services, as well as the resources that were referred to throughout this guide. These resources will help you prepare for your surgery and recover safely. Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

    Thyroid Cancer Resources

    Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC)

    Provides information and support for people with oral and head and neck cancer.

    Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association

    www.thyca.org

    SHARE
    www.sharecancersupport.org
    866-891-2392
    Offers support groups for survivors of breast, metastatic breast, and ovarian cancer in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

    For additional online information, visit LIBGUIDES on MSK’s library website at http://library.mskcc.org or the thyroid surgery section of www.mskcc.org. You can also contact the library reference staff at 212-639-7439 for help.

    MSK Support Services

    Anesthesia
    212-639-6840
    Call if you have any questions about anesthesia.

    Blood Donor Room
    212-639-7643
    Call for more information if you’re interested in donating blood or platelets.

    Bobst International Center
    888-675-7722
    MSK welcomes patients from around the world. If you’re an international patient, call for help arranging your care.

    Chaplaincy Service
    212-639-5982
    At MSK, our chaplains are available to listen, help support family members, pray, contact community clergy or faith groups, or simply be a comforting companion and a spiritual presence. Anyone can request spiritual support, regardless of formal religious affiliation. The interfaith chapel is located near the main lobby of Memorial Hospital and is open 24 hours a day. If you have an emergency, please call the hospital operator and ask for the chaplain on call.

    Counseling Center
    646-888-0200
    Many people find that counseling helps them. We provide counseling for individuals, couples, families, and groups, as well as medications to help if you feel anxious or depressed.

    Integrative Medicine Service
    646-888-0800
    Integrative Medicine Service offers many services to complement (go along with) traditional medical care, including music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy.

    Look Good Feel Better Program
    www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org
    800-395-LOOK (800-395-5665)
    This program offers workshops to learn things you can do to help you feel better about your appearance. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, call the number above or visit the program’s website.

    Patient and Caregiver Support Program
    212-639-5007
    You may find it comforting to speak with a cancer survivor or caregiver who has been through a similar treatment. Through our Patient and Caregiver Support Program, you’re able to speak with former patients and caregivers.

    Patient Billing
    646-227-3378
    Call if you have any questions about preauthorization with your insurance company. This is also called preapproval.

    Patient Representative Office
    212-639-7202
    Call if you have questions about the Health Care Proxy form or if you have concerns about your care.

    Perioperative Nurse Liaison
    212-639-5935
    Call if you have questions about MSK releasing any information while you’re having surgery.

    Private Duty Nursing Office
    212-639-6892
    You may request private nurses or companions. Call for more information.

    Resources for Life After Cancer (RLAC) Program
    Breathing Easier in Lung Cancer Survivorship
    646-888-8106
    At MSK, care doesn’t end after active treatment. The RLAC Program is for patients and their families who have finished treatment. This program has many services, including seminars, workshops, support groups, counseling on life after treatment, and help with insurance and employment issues.

    The Breathing Easier in Lung Cancer Survivorship meeting is led by social workers and nurses and is designed to help people adjust to life after lung cancer treatment. This may include physical and psychological changes, lifestyle changes, and concerns about the future. We encourage people to share their concerns while getting information from healthcare providers.

    Social Work
    212-639-7020
    Social workers help patients, family, and friends deal with issues that are common for cancer patients. They provide individual counseling and support groups throughout the course of treatment, and can help you communicate with children and other family members. Our social workers can also help refer you to community agencies and programs, as well as financial resources if you’re eligible.

    Tobacco Treatment Program
    212-610-0507
    If you want to quit smoking, MSK has specialists who can help. Call for more information.

    External Resources

    Access-A-Ride
    web.mta.info/nyct/paratran/guide.htm
    877-337-2017
    In New York City, the MTA offers a shared ride, door-to-door service for people with disabilities who can’t take the public bus or subway.

    Air Charity Network
    www.aircharitynetwork.org
    877-621-7177
    Provides travel to treatment centers.

    American Cancer Society (ACS)
    www.cancer.org
    800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345)
    Offers a variety of information and services, including Hope Lodge, a free place for patients and caregivers to stay during cancer treatment.

    Cancer and Careers
    www.cancerandcareers.org
    A resource for education, tools, and events for employees with cancer.

    CancerCare
    www.cancercare.org
    800-813-4673
    275 Seventh Avenue (Between West 25th & 26th Streets)
    New York, NY 10001
    Provides counseling, support groups, educational workshops, publications, and financial assistance.

    Cancer Support Community
    www.cancersupportcommunity.org
    Provides support and education to people affected by cancer.

    Caregiver Action Network
    www.caregiveraction.org
    800-896-3650
    Provides education and support for people who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability.

    Corporate Angel Network
    www.corpangelnetwork.org
    866-328-1313
    Offers free travel to treatment across the country using empty seats on corporate jets.

    Gilda’s Club
    www.gildasclubnyc.org
    212-647-9700
    A place where men, women, and children living with cancer find social and emotional support through networking, workshops, lectures, and social activities.

    Good Days
    www.mygooddays.org
    877-968-7233
    Offers financial assistance to pay for copayments during treatment. Patients must have medical insurance, meet the income criteria, and be prescribed medication that’s part of the Good Days formulary.

    Healthwell Foundation
    www.healthwellfoundation.org
    800-675-8416
    Provides financial assistance to cover copayments, health care premiums, and deductibles for certain medications and therapies.

    Joe’s House
    www.joeshouse.org
    877-563-7468
    Provides a list of places to stay near treatment centers for people with cancer and their families.

    LGBT Cancer Project
    http://lgbtcancer.com/
    Provides support and advocacy for the LGBT community, including online support groups and a database of LGBT-friendly clinical trials.

    LIVESTRONG Fertility
    www.livestrong.org/we-can-help/fertility-services
    855-744-7777
    Provides reproductive information and support to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments have risks associated with infertility.

    National Cancer Institute
    www.cancer.gov
    800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237)

    National Cancer Legal Services Network
    www.nclsn.org
    Free cancer legal advocacy program.

    National LGBT Cancer Network
    www.cancer-network.org
    Provides education, training, and advocacy for LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk.

    Needy Meds
    www.needymeds.org
    Lists Patient Assistance Programs for brand and generic name medications.

    NYRx
    www.nyrxplan.com
    Provides prescription benefits to eligible employees and retirees of public sector employers in New York State.

    Partnership for Prescription Assistance
    www.pparx.org
    888-477-2669
    Helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get free or low-cost medications.

    Patient Access Network Foundation
    www.panfoundation.org
    866-316-7263
    Provides assistance with copayments for patients with insurance.

    Patient Advocate Foundation
    www.patientadvocate.org
    800-532-5274
    Provides access to care, financial assistance, insurance assistance, job retention assistance, and access to the national underinsured resource directory.

    RxHope
    www.rxhope.com
    877-267-0517
    Provides assistance to help people get medications that they have trouble affording.

    Educational Resources

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