Patients' View on the Management of Papillary Thyroid Microcarcinoma: Active Surveillance or Surgery

Thyroid. 2020 May;30(5):681-687. doi: 10.1089/thy.2019.0420. Epub 2020 Feb 6.


Background: Clinical practice guidelines have endorsed both active surveillance and surgery as viable management options for papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC). However, patients' perceptions on the options have rarely been addressed. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 50 patients with PTMC who were under either active surveillance (n = 20) or postoperative follow-up (n = 30). The primary outcome was anxiety, which was measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). A questionnaire that comprised six items about PTMC-related symptoms and concerns, which were measured with a visual analog scale, was also administered. Cohen's d effect size was calculated to express group differences. Multiple regression analysis was used to examine the relationships between state anxiety and other variables. Results: The median age and observation period were 61.5 years (range, 40-83 years) and 4.1 years (range, 0-8.6 years), respectively. The female/male ratio was 38/12. Compared with the surgery group, the active surveillance group showed higher scores in both state anxiety and trait anxiety, with corresponding effect sizes of 0.55 (confidence interval [CI] -0.03 to 1.1; p = 0.068) and 0.63 (CI 0.02-1.2; p = 0.037), respectively. Trait anxiety (β = 0.83) and observation time (β = -1.57) were the significant predictors of state anxiety. Moderate effect sizes were observed for "discomfort in the neck" (-0.53; CI -1.11 to 0.04); "weak voice" (-0.46; CI -1.03 to 0.12); and "nervous about neck appearance" (-0.64; CI -1.23 to -0.07), in favor of active surveillance. Conclusions: State anxiety among patients with PTMC seemed to be a reflection of an individual's trait rather than management. Understanding the patients' view appears to be key to improve shared decision-making.

Keywords: active surveillance; effect size; papillary thyroid microcarcinoma; patient-reported outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / pathology
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / surgery
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / therapy*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Watchful Waiting*