Monica Rossleigh

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Dr. Monica Rossleigh was a discussant at one of our most recent Thyroid Journal Club presentations and a Conjoint Associate Professor of Nuclear Medicine at the University of South Wales. She is appointed to the Prince of Wales Hospital as a thyroid specialist and the Sydney Children’s Hospital, where she provides nuclear medicine services. She shared her experiences in thyroid care and nuclear medicine, the future of these fields, and her hopes for her patients and their loved ones. 

Dr. Rossleigh discussed what brought her to specialize in both thyroid disease and nuclear medicine. At the start of her education, she liked mathematics, but discovered nuclear medicine brought physics, math and medicine together. She also noted that “nuclear medicine was run by thyroid clinics. I’m one of the last in my generation to specialize in both nuclear medicine and the thyroid. Now, endocrinologists manage the thyroid.” 

She has witnessed many changes in medical care throughout her career, both over time and in different places, having trained and practiced in both Sydney and New York. So she’s also noticed some systemic healthcare disparities between Australia and the United States.

“In Australia, everyone has the right to universal health coverage. It’s not considered a privilege. It is considered a right. In America, it is a lot harder to access healthcare services. However, (in Australia) we have to ration certain services. Access to MRI and all health services is strictly regulated. To get equipment funded by our government requires much effort, as this equipment is quite expensive.” 

Dr. Rossleigh said that she hopes patients know how treatable most thyroid cancer is. 

”Only a small proportion of patients run into trouble. Nevertheless, the rate of survival is very high. In general, I think that most thyroid disease can be treated, and most people will be alright.”

She also encourages patients arriving for radioactive iodine treatment to come with a family member. 

“There is a lot of information we must give people about treatment. We’ve got to prepare them in a certain way and put them on a low-iodine diet. We give the patient handouts… to see that they’ve understood what we’ve said, but… two sets of ears are better than one. I like it if the patients come with a support person.” 

Dr. Rossleigh emphasized the importance of multidisciplinary meetings to discuss thyroid care. These meetings confirm for patients that they are getting the best care. 

“For cases which are not so clear-cut, this is especially helpful. We have endocrinologists, surgeons, nuclear medicine specialists, pathologists, and radiologists who do ultrasounds. Patients are reassured that several physicians have talked about their case and have come up with a united recommendation.”

30 Stories in 30 Days

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. As part of that theme, we will post stories written by thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers and medical professionals for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.