Risk Factors for Decreased Quality of Life in Thyroid Cancer Survivors: Initial Findings from the North American Thyroid Cancer Survivorship Study

Thyroid. 2015 Dec;25(12):1313-21. doi: 10.1089/thy.2015.0098. Epub 2015 Dec 1.


Background: The prevalence of thyroid cancer survivors is rising rapidly due to the combination of an increasing incidence, high survival rates, and a young age at diagnosis. The physical and psychosocial morbidity of thyroid cancer has not been adequately described, and this study therefore sought to improve the understanding of the impact of thyroid cancer on quality of life (QoL) by conducting a large-scale survivorship study.

Methods: Thyroid cancer survivors were recruited from a multicenter collaborative network of clinics, national survivorship groups, and social media. Study participants completed a validated QoL assessment tool that measures four morbidity domains: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual effects. Data were also collected on participant demographics, medical comorbidities, tumor characteristics, and treatment modalities.

Results: A total of 1174 participants with thyroid cancer were recruited. Of these, 89.9% were female, with an average age of 48 years, and a mean time from diagnosis of five years. The mean overall QoL was 5.56/10, with 0 being the worst. Scores for each of the sub-domains were 5.83 for physical, 5.03 for psychological, 6.48 for social, and 5.16 for spiritual well-being. QoL scores begin to improve five years after diagnosis. Female sex, young age at diagnosis, and lower educational attainment were highly predictive of decreased QoL.

Conclusion: Thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment can result in a decreased QoL. The present findings indicate that better tools to measure and improve thyroid cancer survivor QoL are needed. The authors plan to follow-up on these findings in the near future, as enrollment and data collection are ongoing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Carcinoma / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology
  • Carcinoma / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*
  • Spirituality*
  • Survivors*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / psychology*
  • United States