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Home-based exercise program improves quality of life after thyroidectomy

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January 12, 2018

Adults using thyroid hormone therapy after thyroidectomy reported reduced fatigue and anxiety, improved quality of life and increased immune function after participating in a 12-week home-based exercise program, according to researchers.

Seung Hoon Woo, MD, PhD, of the department of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Gyeongsang National University Hospital in South Korea, and colleagues evaluated 43 adults (mean age, 50 years; 83.7% women) assigned thyroid HT after thyroidectomy. All patients received education about a home-based exercise program; after the education period, patients were randomly assigned to participate in the home-based exercise intervention for 12 weeks (n = 22) or to a control group that received no intervention (n = 21). Researchers sought to determine the effect of the program on fatigue, anxiety, quality of life and immune function.

Participants completed questionnaires to report on general characteristics and disease-related characteristics, fatigue, anxiety and quality of life.

Fatigue levels decreased in the intervention group from the pre-exercise period to the post-exercise period (P = .002); similarly, anxiety levels were reduced (P < .001). Fatigue levels (P = .001) and anxiety levels (P = .18) increased in the control group from the pre-exercise to post-exercise period.

From the pre-exercise to post-exercise period, quality of life increased in the intervention group (P < .001), whereas a nonsignificant decrease in quality of life was observed in the control group. Symptoms scales/items, which included function quality of life, symptoms quality of life and overall health quality of life, improved from the pre-exercise to post-exercise period in the intervention group (P = .011) and decreased in the control group (P = .024). Overall health quality of life improved in the intervention group from pre-exercise to post-exercise (P < .001) but not in the control group.

Natural killer cell activity was higher in the intervention group than in the control group (P < .05).

“Despite the often-good prognosis of thyroid cancer, many patients experience psychological distress that can be heightened by blood testing every 3 to 4 months, secondary effects of surgery and/or radioactive iodine treatment, and treatment with supraphysiological doses of thyroid hormones,” the researchers wrote. “The latter can result in subclinical hyperthyroidism, which can produce fatigue. Thyroid cancer patients can experience severe fatigue with significantly higher prevalence than present in the general population. These results suggest the need for an intervention to alleviate anxiety and fatigue of thyroid cancer patients.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.