Quality of Life in Thyroid Cancer is Similar to That of Other Cancers with Worse Survival

World J Surg. 2016 Mar;40(3):551-61. doi: 10.1007/s00268-015-3300-5.


Background: The incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing. As such, the number of survivors is rising, and it has been shown that their quality of life (QOL) is worse than expected. Using results from the North American Thyroid Cancer Survivorship Study (NATCSS), a large-scale survivorship study, we aim to compare the QOL of thyroid cancer survivors to the QOL of survivors of other types of cancer.

Methods: The NATCSS assessed QOL overall and in four subcategories: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being using the QOL-Cancer Survivor (QOL-CS) instrument. Studies that used the QOL-CS to evaluate survivors of other types of cancers were compared to the NATCSS findings using two-tailed t tests.

Results: We compared results from NATCSS to QOL survivorship studies in colon, glioma, breast, and gynecologic cancer. The mean overall QOL in NATCSS was 5.56 (on a scale of 0-10, where 10 is the best). Overall QOL of patients with thyroid cancer was similar to that of patients with colon cancer (mean 5.20, p = 0.13), glioma (mean 5.96, p = 0.23), and gynecologic cancer (mean 5.59, p = 0.43). It was worse than patients surveyed with breast cancer (mean 6.51, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: We found the self-reported QOL of thyroid cancer survivors in our study population is overall similar to or worse than that of survivors of other types of cancer surveyed with the same instrument. This should heighten awareness of the significance of a thyroid cancer diagnosis and highlights the need for further research in how to improve care for this enlarging group of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / psychology*