Post-thyroidectomy neck appearance and impact on quality of life in thyroid cancer survivors

Sasha K. Kurumety, Irene B. Helenowski, Sneha Goswami, Benjamin J. Peipert, Susan E. Yount, Cord Sturgeon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: There is a paucity of patient-reported data on thyroidectomy scar perception. The effect of neck scarring on quality of life is not known. We hypothesized that worse perception of neck appearance would be related to worse health-related quality of life and that perception improves with time. Methods: Survivors of thyroid cancer (n = 1,710) were surveyed online. Respondents were asked to score the appearance of their neck via a 5-point Likert scale. Quality of life was evaluated via the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System 29. The relationships between neck appearance, patient characteristics, quality of life, and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System domains were analyzed with multivariable models and Spearman partial correlations (rs). Results: Older age was associated with better perception of neck appearance (odds ratio 0.975/year; 95% confidence interval 0.967–0.983; P <.001). Greater time since surgery was also associated with improved perception (odds ratio 0.962/year; 95% confidence interval 0.947–0.977; P <.0001). We observed no statistically significant difference between current and preoperative baseline perception >2 years after surgery. On multivariable analysis, age >45 years, >2 years since surgery, and higher self-reported quality of life were independent predictors of better self-reported neck appearance (P ≤.0003). In patients ≤2 years after surgery (n = 568), the PROMIS domains of anxiety, depression, social function, and fatigue had weak but statistically significant correlations with worse perception of neck appearance (P <.0001). Conclusion: Age >45, >2 years since surgery, and higher quality of life were independently associated with better self-reported neck appearance. Perception of neck appearance returned to preoperative baseline 2 years after surgery. PROMIS domains had a weak but significant association with neck appearance perception in patients ≤2 years after surgery. The impact of post-thyroidectomy neck appearance on quality of life appears to be mild and transient and returns to preoperative levels after 2 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1217-1221
Number of pages5
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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