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Evert F S van Velsen, Elske T Massolt, Hélène Heersema, Boen L R Kam, Tessa M van Ginhoven, W Edward Visser and Robin P Peeters

Objective

Earlier cross-sectional studies showed that patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) have a significant reduction of quality of life (QoL) compared to controls. However, recent longitudinal studies showed mixed results and had relative short follow-up or lacked knowledge about QoL before initial surgery. Therefore, we initiated a longitudinal study to assess changes of QoL in patients undergoing treatment for DTC.

Methods

We prospectively included patients, aged 18–80 years, who were treated for DTC at a Dutch university hospital. Using questionnaires, QoL was assessed before surgery, just before radioiodine (RAI) therapy, and regularly during follow-up. Repeated measurement analysis was used to assess changes of QoL over time, and we explored the influence of different characteristics on QoL.

Results

Longitudinal QoL assessments were available in 185 patients (mean age 47 years; 71% women). All patients were treated according to the Dutch guidelines with total thyroidectomy followed by RAI (83% after thyroid hormone withdrawal). Median time between baseline and final questionnaire was 31 months, and patients completed a median of three questionnaires. QoL at baseline was lower than that in the general population, developed non-linear over time, was lowest around RAI therapy, and recovered over time. Females, younger patients, and patients with persistent hypoparathyroidism had lower QoL scores.

Conclusions

In a population of DTC patients, QoL before initial therapy is already lower than that in the general population. Thereafter, QoL develops non-linearly over time in general, with the lowest QoL around RAI therapy, while 2 to 3 years later, it approximates baseline values.

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Ivona Lončar, Roderick R Dulfer, Elske T Massolt, Reinier Timman, Yolanda B de Rijke, Gaston J H Franssen, Pim J W A Burger, Casper Smit, Frans A L van der Horst, Robin P Peeters, Casper H J van Eijck and Tessa M van Ginhoven

Objective

Hypoparathyroidism is a common complication after thyroidectomy. It is not yet possible to predict in which patients hypoparathyroidism will persist. We aim to determine whether a decrease in PTH levels, measured at the first postoperative day, can identify patients with a high risk for persistent hypoparathyroidism one year after thyroidectomy.

Design

Prospective multi-center cohort study.

Methods

Patients undergoing total or completion thyroidectomy were included. We measured PTH levels preoperatively and on the first postoperative day. Primary outcome is the proportion of patients with persistent hypoparathyroidism, defined as the need for calcium supplementation one year after surgery.

Results

We included 110 patients of which 81 were used for analysis of the primary outcome. At discharge 72.8% of patients were treated with calcium supplementation. Persistent hypoparathyroidism was present in 14 patients (17.3%) at one-year follow-up, all of them had a decrease in PTH >70% at the first postoperative day. These 14 were 43.8% of the 32 patients who had such a decrease. In the group of 49 patients (59.8%) without a PTH >70% decrease, none had persistent hypoparathyroidism one year after surgery (P-value <0.001). A decrease of >70% in PTH levels had a sensitivity of 100.0% (95% CI: 85.8–100.0%), a specificity of 73.1% (95% CI: 62.5–83.7%) and an area under the curve of 0.87 (95% CI: 0.79–0.94) to predict the risk for persistent hypoparathyroidism.

Conclusion

In our study a decrease in PTH levels of >70% after total or completion thyroidectomy is a reliable predictor for persistent hypoparathyroidism, and this should be confirmed in larger cohorts.