Thyroid cancer is the fastest rising cancer, especially in women. The first step after a diagnosis of thyroid cancer is usually surgery. Thyroid surgery is a fairly safe procedure with very low complication rate. Among the most common complications are damage to the vocal cords, damage to the parathyroid glands that control calcium levels and bleeding. This study looked at the risk of complications after thyroid surgery and if there are specific risk factors for complications in older adults in the US.
THE FULL ARTICLE TITLE:
Papaleontiou M et al Extrathyroidal population-based assessment of complications following surgery for thyroid cancer. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. April 28, 2017 [Epub ahead of print].
SUMMARY OF THE STUDY
The authors used a combined Medicare-SEER cancer registry database to look at all thyroid surgeries performed for cancer in Medicare patients. They looked at both thyroid surgery-specific complications (such as nerve/vocal cord injury or low calcium) as well as general complications (such as heart or lung problems or infections). Of more than 27,000 patients (50% of which were over 65 years old), the rate of general complications was 6.5% and the rate of thyroid-surgery specific complications was 12.3%. Patients were more likely to have a complication if they had surgery for advanced cancer, more extensive surgery, were sicker (had other medical problems) and/or older.