Context: Pediatric thyroid cancer (TC) incidence rates are increasing, yet TC has one of the highest survival rates. Despite increased prevalence, little is known about youth adjustment to TC, particularly compared to other pediatric cancers.
Objective: The current study sought to describe health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in pediatric TC patients early after diagnosis compared to other pediatric cancer patients and healthy youth and examine predictors of HRQoL.
Design: Patients completed psychosocial questionnaires as part of a clinic-based screening program around time of surgery. TC HRQoL was compared to other pediatric cancer and healthy youth reported norms. Clinical and demographic data extracted from the medical record were examined for predictors of HRQoL.
Setting: Pediatric Thyroid Center.
Patients and other participants: Pediatric TC patients (ages 8.5-23.4 years) and their caregivers.
Main outcome measures: Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (HRQoL) and distress thermometer.
Results: Findings evidenced significantly higher HRQoL for TC patients than other pediatric cancers for all but emotional and school functioning. Compared to healthy youth, TC patients reported significantly lower functioning, except comparable social functioning. No significant differences in HRQoL were identified based on disease severity, thyroid disease history, or treatment. Patient distress was associated with HRQoL.
Conclusions: The findings suggest general resilience in TC patients compared to youth with other cancers, yet worse HRQoL than peers. Early universal screening is warranted due to a short TC treatment regimen. If administrative barriers preclude comprehensive screening, the single-item distress thermometer may identify patients for further comprehensive screening.
Keywords: differentiated thyroid cancer; health related quality of life; pediatric thyroid cancer.
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