Bringing thyroid screenings to you

She might be one of the best in her field in the United States, and she’s right here in Tampa. 

Surgeon Rashmi Roy, a senior thyroid surgeon and director of thyroid surgical services at the Clayman Thyroid Center at the Hospital for Endocrine Surgery, has an impressive resume, no doubt. 

She attended John Hopkins University, in Baltimore, where she graduated with honors in 2001. She completed a five-year residency in general surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center, and then a one-year fellowship in endocrine surgery. 

Roy was drawn to the medical field at an early stage. 

“It was just instilled in me from when I was a young girl that being a doctor is a great profession and I always found myself doing science experiments in anatomy class,” says Roy. “You know when you dissect the frogs? I dissected everybody’s frogs because nobody wanted to.” 

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, she was a Northeastern resident until she was recruited to join the team at the Clayman Thyroid Center in Tampa. 

“The thyroid affects the whole entire body. It was really interesting to me,” Roy says. “And then the surgical aspect of it, it’s a very fine, delicate procedure and very fine dissection. We do it microscopically under magnification loops. So just the intricacies and how tactile it was.” 

Now with the Center for nearly five years, Roy and her team, have begun offering mobile thyroid screenings and bringing the medical service out into the community, in an effort to early detect signs of thyroid cancer. 

“People can’t believe that we’re offering this service. It’s really never been done anywhere that I know of in the country with any institution. People are enthusiastic and grateful for it and they want to do it,” Roy says. “And when they find out that we find a nodule, or find something that requires a full evaluation, they can’t believe that this isn’t done always. That’s kind of the goal of why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because I want to make it standard.”

Unlike other cancers like breast, prostate, colon and skin cancers, there is no set guideline on when someone should begin screenings, or how often he or she should get screened.  

“It’s known that women at 40 should have a mammogram but there’s nothing out there about thyroid cancer. And the thing about thyroid cancer is that you can’t find it in bloodwork. Most patients have no symptoms. So without a screening ultrasound, there’s no way to really diagnose it on a regular basis. That’s kind of the motivation behind the whole screening process,” Roy says. 

The thyroid is responsible for a number of functions in the body including metabolism, energy levels, temperature tolerance, and hair, nails and skin.

“What’s interesting is you could have thyroid cancer, but your thyroid function is completely normal,” Roy says. “One doesn’t normally affect the other. You actually need imaging to see if there’s a nodule that’s suspicious for cancer.” 

The Clayman Thyroid Center has also built a new subspecialty hospital called the Hospital for Endocrine Surgery. 

“The hospital was a dream that became a reality. We wanted a place where it was a hospital of subspecialties. There’s no other hospital of its kind in the country, where endocrine surgeons provide endocrine surgery,” Roy says. “The best surgeons provide the best surgeries. It’s a process that we provide for patients and make it really a VIP process.” 

She explains, people from anywhere can travel to the surgical hospital, and within three hours be diagnosed and cured of thyroid cancer. Instead of weeks of ultrasounds, biopsy and treatment, this can all be handled the same day at the Clayman Thyroid Center and the Hospital for Endocrine Surgery. 

“It’s a long process of anxiety for patients. So, we’ve streamlined the process where patients come in, they have their evaluation in the morning, which is anything they need. An ultrasound, a biopsy, a CAT scan, we have pathology right there at the bedside. So, we have biopsy results in 20 minutes. And we know exactly what operation they need for them and they have their operation that afternoon,” Roy explains. 

And, if you’re really pressed for time, Roy also has a Youtube Channel where she can guide you on how to do self-checks. You can subscribe to her channel at Thyroid Goiter Guru. 

“You can check your own neck just like you do your own self-breast exams. I think that’s important for women to do,” Roy says. “Take it into, literally, your own hands. If you feel anything, you then know to go get it checked out.”

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