Differentiated thyroid cancer survival, recurrence rates by disease stage and quality of life in the Northern Cancer Network

This award funded a research study in North East England into thyroid cancer survival among their patients.

We caught up with one of the lead researchers, Dr Rob Chandler, who reports some encouraging results.

What was the aim of the research?

Mortality from thyroid cancer is reported to be higher in the UK compared with several other European countries, though UK data on mortality by disease stage has not been published. The aim of this study was to establish the disease-specific mortality rates by stage in thyroid cancer patients treated at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, International Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne.

What did the study involve?

The study looked at the medical records and, where applicable, causes of death of four hundred and twenty patients treated at the centre in Newcastle between 2000-2010.

What were the findings?

Overall disease-specific mortality was 1.4% at 5 years after diagnosis and 5.8% at 10 years after diagnosis. The observed mortality was 58. This was lower than the expected 66.3 deaths. There were no deaths due to thyroid cancer in patients with stage I disease at 5 or 10 years. The 10-year disease-specific mortality rose according to the cancer’s stage (stage II 3.1%, stage III 28.6%, stage IV 30%).

What does this mean?

These results are very encouraging. They show very high survival figures from thyroid cancer at 5 and 10 years after diagnosis. This is equivalent to the best published figures from other countries. The likely explanation behind previous press reports of poor UK survival rates is that the UK is not as good as some other countries at registering the small incidental cancers that have excellent prognoses. As expected, this makes our national cancer statistics on thyroid cancer look worse. When the mortality rates are examined by disease stage, the data becomes far more informative. Unfortunately, our national cancer database does not provide figures for mortality by disease stage.

How has funding for the BTF Doris Godfrey award helped?

Without the financial support we received from the BTF, this research could not have taken place. We would like to thank the BTF and its members for supporting our work.

Read the Final Report.

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