Thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer in the elderly: A meta-analysis

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2019 Mar;45(3):310-317. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2018.07.055. Epub 2018 Sep 6.


Thyroid cancer, the most common endocrine malignancy, has patients who generally have excellent prognosis. It has been shown that elderly patients are more likely to undergo sub-therapeutic management, despite having more aggressive disease, resulting in increased mortality and morbidity. The present study aimed to quantitatively investigate the risks of elderly patients who underwent thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer regarding mortality/survival, recurrence of disease, and complications arising from thyroidectomy. A systematic search and meta-analysis was carried out using the electronic databases PubMed and Medline. We searched for articles containing epidemiological evidence of mortality and recurrence of disease in patients above the age of 60, who are treated for operatively thyroid cancer and data involving complications following total thyroidectomy. The meta-analysis consisted of a total of 16 studies meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The current study confirmed that patients have increased risk of recurrence (HR 4.84; 95% CI = 22.2-10.52; I2 = 0.00; P = 0.98) including increased risk of lymph node recurrence and distant metastases. Additionally these patients had an increased risk of complications (OR 1.82; 95% CI = 0.88-3.77; I2 = 77.01; P = 0.005) following thyroidectomy compared to patients in the younger cohort. The current study also qualitatively compared survival data between the different age cohorts, and identified a reduced overall survival and disease free survival for elderly patients. The current study suggests that elderly patients should be classified as higher risk following total thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer and puts an emphasis is early detection and intervention.

Keywords: Elderly; Mortality; Recurrence; Risk factors; Thyroid cancer; Thyroidectomy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thyroidectomy / methods*