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JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019 Jan 17. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2018.3870. [Epub ahead of print]

Health-Related Quality of Life After Diagnosis and Treatment of Differentiated Thyroid Cancer and Association With Type of Surgical Treatment.

Author information

Wiser Healthcare, Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Sydney Health Literacy Laboratory, Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia.
Cancer Council Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Menzies Health Institute, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.
University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia.
School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



Concerns around possible overdiagnosis and overtreatment of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) have been raised. Issues concerning health-related quality of life (HRQOL) after diagnosis and treatment of DTC are understudied in this patient group.


To better understand the range of HRQOL outcomes, including possible adverse effects of treatment, associated with diagnosis and treatment of DTC and whether these outcomes vary by type of surgery received.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

This content analysis assessed responses to an open-ended question about outcomes and concerns after DTC diagnosis and treatment among patients ascertained from the major postsurgical thyroid cancer treatment center and the population-based Cancer Registry in Queensland, Australia. Participants were aged 18 to 79 years and recently diagnosed with throid cancer. Responses underwent analysis to identify and code emergent themes to describe HRQOL issues and adverse effects of treatment experienced. Quantitative analysis was used to explore whether surgery type was associated with HRQOL issues and/or adverse effects of treatment. Of 1416 eligible patients, 1005 (71.0%) participated. Data were collected from July 1, 2013, through August 31, 2016, and analyzed from January 11 through April 9, 2018.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Issues concerning HRQOL.


The analysis included 1005 patients (72.2% female [nā€‰=ā€‰726]; mean [SD] age, 52 [14.0 years) with DTC. Most patients were diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer (889 of 1003 [88.6%]), had tumors smaller than 2 cm in size (564 of 1000 [56.4%]), and received a total thyroidectomy (791 of 1005 [78.7%]). Overall, 775 patients (77.1%) reported HRQOL issues after diagnosis and treatment of DTC. The following 4 main themes emerged from content analysis of patient responses: physical (663 [66.0%]), psychological (187 [18.6%]), lifestyle (82 [8.2%]), and no issue or adverse effect (246 [24.5%]). Patients who had a total thyroidectomy (without neck dissection) were 1.5 times (odds ratio, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.04-2.12) more likely to report an HRQOL issue or an adverse effect of treatment compared with patients who underwent a hemithyroidectomy.

Conclusions and Relevance:

According to results of this study, patients diagnosed with DTC report wide-ranging HRQOL issues; these are more prevalent among patients who have total thyroidectomies rather than hemithyroidectomies. For patients with small, localized DTCs, hemithyroidectomy may offer fewer adverse effects of treatment and better HRQOL outcomes than total thyroidectomy. It appears that issues with HRQOL should be considered by patients and physicians when deciding on the best treatment approach after a diagnosis of DTC.


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