The incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) is increasing, yet the prognosis is favourable and long-term survival is expected. Exogenous TSH suppression has been used for many years to prevent DTC recurrence and may be associated with increased risks of circulatory diseases.
Risks of circulatory disease in patients treated for DTC were compared to randomly matched patients without DTC (controls) up to a 1:5 ratio using age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and smoking as the matching parameters in a population-based, open cohort study using The Health Improvement Network.
A total of 3009 patients treated for DTC with no pre-existing cardiovascular disease were identified and matched to 11 303 controls, followed up to median of 5 years.
A total of 1259 incident circulatory events were recorded during the observation period. No difference in the risk of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) (adjusted hazards ratio [aHR]: 1.04, 95% CI: 0.80-1.36) or heart failure (HF) (aHR: 1.27, 95% CI: 0.89-1.81) was detected. The risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke was significantly higher in patients with DTC (aHR: 1.71, 95% CI: 1.36-2.15 and aHR: 1.34, 95% CI: 1.05-1.72, respectively). In a sensitivity analysis limited to newly diagnosed patients with DTC, only the risk of AF was consistently elevated (aHR: 1.86, 95% CI: 1.33-2.60).
The increased risk of AF in patients who have undergone treatment for DTC but without pre-existing CVD may warrant periodic screening for this arrhythmia. Whereas no evidence of increased risk of IHD or HF was observed, the increased risk of stroke/TIA warrants further investigation.