Year: 2022 Source: Frontiers in Oncology. (2022). 12, 852347. Published online 14 March 2022. SIEC No: 20220358

Background: Over the last decades, the number of patients diagnosed with thyroid carcinoma has been increasing, highlighting the importance of comprehensively evaluating causes of death among these patients. This study aimed to comprehensively characterize the risk of death and causes of death in patients with thyroid carcinoma.

Methods: A total of 183,641 patients diagnosed with an index thyroid tumor were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Result database (1975–2016). Standardized mortality rates (SMRs) for non-cancer deaths were calculated to evaluate mortality risk and to compare mortality risks with the cancer-free US population. Cumulative mortality rates were calculated to explore the factors associated with higher risk of deaths.

Results: There were 22,386 deaths recorded during follow-up, of which only 31.0% were due to thyroid cancer and 46.4% due to non-cancer causes. Non-cancer mortality risk among patients with thyroid cancer was nearly 1.6-fold (SMR=1.59) that of the general population. Cardiovascular diseases were the leading cause of non-cancer deaths, accounting for 21.3% of all deaths in thyroid cancer patients. Non-cancer causes were the dominant cause of death in thyroid cancer survivors as of the third year post-diagnosis. We found that males with thyroid cancer had a higher risk of all-cause mortality compared with females. The risk of suicide was highest in the first post-diagnostic year (<1 year: SMR=1.51). The long-term risk of Alzheimer’s disease was notably increased in thyroid cancer patients (>5 years: SMR=8.27).

Conclusion: Non-cancer comorbidities have become the major risks of death in patients with thyroid tumor in the US, as opposed to death from the tumor itself. Clinicians and researchers should be aware of these risk trends in order to conduct timely intervention strategies.