New thesis on the quality of life in patients with thyroid cancer
Christel Hedman from the research group Endocrine Surgery will defend her thesis ”Quality of life in patients with thyroid cancer” on November 24, 2017. Her main supervisor is MD PhD Catharina Ihre Lundgren.
What´s the main focus of your thesis?
My thesis focuses on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with thyroid cancer, both short- and long-term. In addition, we have studied which factors could affect HRQoL. Moreover, we have used semi-structured interviews to study how living with thyroid cancer affects the patients’ lives.
Which are the most important results?
HRQoL in patients with thyroid cancer is decreased, compared with a Swedish general population, more than ten years after diagnosis. The majority of the patients have symptoms that could be related to their disease or its treatment, e.g. fatigue, sleeping problems and irritability. These symptoms affect HRQoL negatively. The most important factor affecting HRQoL at one year of follow-up is HRQoL at diagnosis. In the qualitative interview study many patients suffer from anxiety and fear of recurrence, which does not seem to be related to the disease stage. Moreover, planned follow-up increased anxiety.
How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?
Knowledge of the decreased HRQoL in thyroid cancer is important information for the health care professionals when meeting these patients. Many of the symptoms patients suffer from might be treatable, which might increase HRQoL. An individualized follow-up, especially for those with low-risk of recurrence, might help patients cope with their anxiety.
What are your future ambitions?
I want to continue to combine research with the clinical work as a doctor. We will continue to study HRQoL in thyroid cancer patients after diagnosis and extend the follow-up time to five years. The goal is to identify those patients with the greatest risk of decreased HRQoL, and to develop an evidence based rehabilitation program to increase the HRQoL in this group of patients.