Thyroid hormone withdrawal in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma: a one hundred thirty-patient pilot survey on consequences of hypothyroidism and a pharmacoeconomic comparison to recombinant thyrotropin administration

Thyroid. 2005 Oct;15(10):1147-55. doi: 10.1089/thy.2005.15.1147.


The study objective was to elucidate clinical, quality-of-life, and pharmacoeconomic effects of hypothyroidism secondary to thyroid hormone withdrawal (withdrawal) in athyroid patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). We also intended to compare societal costs of withdrawal and recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone administration (rhTSH) in this population. We mailed a 13-item pilot survey to patients with DTC who had undergone withdrawal before diagnostic whole-body scan (dxWBS). Using survey results and actual and estimated cost data, we retrospectively constructed a societal cost model comparing withdrawal versus rhTSH and performed a sensitivity analysis by increasing the conservatism of 8 assumptions about withdrawal costs. One hundred thirty (55%) of 236 patients answered the questionnaire. Among respondents, 92% had symptomatic and 85% multisymptomatic hypothyroidism. Almost half sought medical attention for hypothyroid complaints. Approximately one third drove motor vehicles while hypothyroid. Median absence from salaried work was 11 days per withdrawal. In the pharmacoeconomic model, societal costs per dxWBS were approximately 326 euro (25%) greater for withdrawal than for rhTSH. In the sensitivity analysis, societal costs of rhTSH exceeded those of withdrawal by approximately 307 euro (30%). In conclusion, hypothyroidism secondary to withdrawal causes important morbidity, safety risks, and productivity impairment. rhTSH avoids these drawbacks at roughly equivalent societal cost to that of withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Economics, Pharmaceutical
  • Efficiency / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / chemically induced*
  • Hypothyroidism / economics*
  • Hypothyroidism / therapy
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Economic
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / complications
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Thyrotropin / therapeutic use*
  • Thyroxine / adverse effects*


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine