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Shoulder-Related Issues Common After Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Patients with thyroid carcinoma have worse scores on disability, quality of life measures

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Patients with thyroid carcinoma undergoing thyroid surgery often have shoulder-related complaints, according to a study published online Nov. 12 in Head & Neck.

Sean H.P.P. Roerink, M.D., from the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues examined the prevalence of shoulder complaints and the correlation with clinical characteristics and quality of life (QOL) after thyroid carcinoma surgery. Data were included for 109 patients with thyroid carcinoma and 81 healthy controls.

The researchers found that, on average, 10.2 years after thyroid surgery, patients with thyroid carcinoma reported a 58.7 percent prevalence of shoulder-related complaints, compared with 13.6 percent among healthy controls (P < 0.01). On most different subscales of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire (DASH) and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30-questions (EORTC-QLQ-C30), patients with thyroid carcinoma scored worse than healthy controls. Level V neck dissection correlated with the prevalence of shoulder complaints and the DASH score in bivariate association analysis; spinal accessory nerve damage and employment status correlated with the DASH score. Significant correlations were seen for prevalence of shoulder complaints and DASH scores with several EORTC-QLQ-C30 scores.

“Information provision to the patient should be improved, shoulder complaints should be registered, and additional care should be provided after thyroid carcinoma surgery to improve QOL,” the authors write.

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