Prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in untreated cancer patients: a cross-sectional study

Medical Oncology, 05/31/2012

Disel U et al. – The data indicate that alterations in thyroid hormone metabolism are twice as common in patients with untreated cancer than in control subjects. Those alterations may lead to delayed diagnosis, suboptimal treatment, and a poorer prognosis. In all, this study suggests that screening with thyroid function tests is strongly recommended in all newly diagnosed cancer patients.

Methods

  • This study was designed to compare the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in 457 untreated cancer patients at the time of initial diagnosis to that of 373 age- and sex-matched subjects who were healthy and cancer-free (control group).

Results

  • Thyroid dysfunction was found in 29.5 % (135/457) of the cancer patients, while only 15.4 % (56/373) of the control group had thyroid dysfunction (p = 0.0001).
  • The most prevalent abnormality was euthyroid sick syndrome (14.0 %, 64/457).
  • Overt and subclinical hyperthyroidism and overt hypothyroidism were observed more frequently in cancer patients than the control group, and these differences were all statistically significant.
  • Thyroid dysfunction was more frequent in patients with poor performance scores and those over the age of 50 years.

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