Insurance Update
January 2014
Issue No. 42 
In this issue
Thyroid Awareness Month
Thyroid Carcinoma
Medical Plan members: Get back into the gym ...
Long-Term Care Insurance
ThyroidThyroid Awareness Month

Are you taking necessary steps to monitor your thyroid health? The guide below has details on thyroid health. 



About Us 

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 A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides ancillary coverage for ministers and other employees of congregations, districts, and camps.
Medical and ancillary plans are available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.  
Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120



Happy new year to our valued members! We hope to be with you every step along your journey in 2014.


January marks a month-long time of awareness about thyroid health. During Thyroid Awareness Month, take some time to learn about the functions of (and risks for) your body's hormonal regulatory center. We've included a guide to thyroid self-checks on the left of this newsletter and an article about thyroid cancer below.


January also often marks the start of new plans for a new year. If exercise is something you hope to continue or increase in 2014, Brethren Medical Plan members have the opportunity to get a discounted rate on exercise centers in their area. Learn more in this month's newsletter.


May you enjoy the fresh beginning that this new year provides!


SignaturesScott, Tammy, and Connie 
CancerThyroid Carcinoma

What is thyroid cancer?  
The thyroid gland is located in the lower front of the neck, above the collarbones, and below the voice box (larynx). Thyroid cancer (carcinoma) usually appears as a painless lump in this area. In most cases, the lump is only on one side, and the results of thyroid function tests (blood tests) are usually normal.


There are four main types of thyroid cancer (papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic). Since the vast majority are either papillary or follicular, and these are the only two types treatable with radioiodine, we will focus on these two types.  


What are the features of thyroid cancer?

Many patients with thyroid cancer have no symptoms whatsoever, and are found by chance to have a lump in the thyroid gland on a routine physical exam or an imaging study of the neck done for unrelated reasons (CT or MRI scan of spine or chest, carotid ultrasound, etc.). Some patients with thyroid cancer become aware of a gradually enlarging lump in the front portion of the neck, which usually moves with swallowing. Occasionally, the lump may cause a feeling of pressure. Obviously, finding a lump in the neck should be brought to the attention of your physician, even in the absence of symptoms.  


What are the causes of thyroid cancer?
As with many types of cancer, the specific reason for developing thyroid cancer remains a mystery in the vast majority of patients. Some major risk factors are:

  • A history of radiation to the head or neck, especially during childhood
  • Genetic predisposition (the influence of heredity), particularly for the medullary type of thyroid cancer

How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?   
First, your physician takes a detailed history and performs a careful physical examination, especially of the thyroid gland. The best diagnostic approach for a specific patient will be determined by your physician after careful consideration of all the facts. The tests available to your physician for evaluation of the thyroid lump include, but are not limited to, the following:  
  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy: this is usually done first and, if positive, significantly reduces the need for more elaborate and expensive testing
  • Ultrasonography: this may be required for guidance of the fine needle biopsy if the nodule is difficult to feel
  • Thyroid scan: this can be done to see if the mass is capable of concentrating radioiodine, particularly in those patients with low TSH levels
  • Blood studies    


How is thyroid cancer treated?

Fortunately, most types of thyroid cancer can be diagnosed early and cured completely, but a thoughtful and comprehensive investigation is necessary. If thyroid cancer is suspected after review of all the information, referral to an experienced thyroid surgeon is recommended.  


If the diagnosis of thyroid cancer is certain or highly likely, the usual approach is to remove both sides of the thyroid gland. If the diagnosis of thyroid cancer is much less certain or cannot be made during surgery, only the side of the thyroid containing the lump may be removed. If cancer is subsequently confirmed, further consultation with the endocrinologist is appropriate. Additional surgery may be required to remove the remaining tissue in order to reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer. In cases when the risk of recurrence is significant, radioactive iodine treatment may be recommended in order to destroy any remaining malignant thyroid cells.  


Radioactive iodine treatment should never be given to a pregnant or nursing woman!  


Small amounts of radioactive iodine will also be excreted in breast milk. Since radioiodine could permanently damage the infant's thyroid, breast-feeding is not allowed. If radioiodine is inadvertently administered to a woman who is subsequently discovered to be pregnant, the advisability of terminating the pregnancy should be discussed with the patient's obstetrician and endocrinologist. Therefore, prior to administering diagnostic or therapeutic radioiodine treatment, pregnancy testing is mandatory whenever pregnancy is possible. After radioiodine therapy, thyroid medication (levothyroxine) should be started and dosed to replace the function of the thyroid and to decrease the likelihood of cancer recurrence. Periodic monitoring is supervised by the endocrinologist, and may include ultrasound examinations, radioiodine body scans, and periodic testing of a blood protein called thyroglobulin, which is found in normal thyroid cells but can also be produced by thyroid cancer cells.  


The optimal frequency of further monitoring studies to be certain that the cancer has not recurred will be determined by your physician. Fortunately, most types of thyroid cancer have a very good prognosis when diagnosed early and treated by a physician who is familiar with its management.


This article provided by The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

OEMedical Plan members: Get back into the gym through our flexible, affordable program


If improving your exercise habits is on your list of New Year's resolutions, let Brethren Insurance Services help you find a gym solution that fits your location and budget.


The Fitness Program, an initiative available to you through our partner, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, makes it easier for you to find a fitness center that fits you without the hassle of an annual commitment.


Our vast network of locations includes some of the nation's leading fitness centers, regional chains, select YMCAs, and local facilities.

With the Fitness Program you are not limited to just one fitness center or chain, but will have access to all participating clubs and YMCAs in the network. Work out where you want, when you want -- close to home or work, or on vacation.


Access to the entire network for a one-time $25 enrollment fee and a pay-as-you-go monthly $25 fee, plus applicable taxes.


Enroll in the Fitness Program today to enjoy the benefits of a healthier you! For more information or to enroll, log into your Brethren Medical Plan portal at and click on the "Fitness Program" link on the right side of the screen. 


 LTCILong-Term Care Insurance
Are you in denial? A poll by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research determined that two-thirds of Americans surveyed age 40 and over have done little to no planning for their potential need for long-term care. And
three in 10 would rather not think about getting older at all.  


Don't be caught with your head in the sand when long-term care needs arise. Brethren Insurance Services is here to help you. We offer Long-Term Care Insurance for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.

If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or click here to request more information