Understanding surgical decision-making in older adults with differentiated thyroid cancer: A discrete choice experiment

Whitney Sutton, Becky Genberg, Jason D Prescott, Dorry Segev, Martha A. Zeiger, Karen Bandeen-Roche, Aarti Mathur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Prior studies demonstrated that older adults tend to undergo less surgery for thyroid cancer. Our objective was to use a discrete choice experiment to identify factors influencing surgical decision-making for older adults with thyroid cancer. Methods: Active and candidate members of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons were invited to participate in a web-based survey. Multinomial logistic regression was utilized to assess patient and surgeon factors associated with treatment choices. Results: Complete survey response rate was 25.7%. Most respondents were high-volume surgeons (88.5%) at academic centers (76.9%). Multinomial logistic regression demonstrated that patient age was the strongest predictor of management. Increasing age and comorbidities were associated with the choice for active surveillance (P = .000), not performing a lymphadenectomy in patients with nodal metastases (relative-risk ratio: 2.5, 95% CI: 1.4–4.2, P = .002 and relative-risk ratio: 1.6, 95% CI: 1.2–2.1, P = .004, respectively), and recommending hemithyroidectomy versus total thyroidectomy for a cancer >4 cm (relative-risk ratio: 4.4, 95% CI: 2.5–7.9, P = .000 and relative-risk ratio: 3.4, 95% CI: 2.3–5.1, P = .000, respectively). Surgeons with ≥10 years of experience (relative-risk ratio: 3.3, 95% CI: 1.1–10.3, P = .039) favored total thyroidectomy for a cancer <4 cm, and nonfellowship trained surgeons (relative-risk ratio: 7.3, 95% CI: 1.3–42.2, P = .027) opted for thyroidectomy without lymphadenectomy for lateral neck nodal metastases. Conclusion: This study highlights the variation in surgical management of older adults with thyroid cancer and demonstrates the influence of patient age, comorbidities, surgeon experience, and fellowship training on management of this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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