Background: Surgical scars are crucial cosmetic problem, especially when in exposed areas such as the anterior neck following thyroidectomy.
Objective: To evaluate the impact of post-thyroidectomy scars on quality of life (QoL) of thyroid cancer patients and identify the relationship between scar characteristics and QoL.
Methods: Patients with post-thyroidectomy scars on the neck were recruited. QoL was measured using the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI). Scar characteristics were graded according to Vancouver scar scale (VSS) score.
Results: Ninety-seven patients completed a battery of questions at the time of enrollment. Post-thyroidectomy scars were classified according to morphology as linear flat scars, linear bulging scars, hypertrophic scars or adhesive scars. There were 32 patients (33.0%), 9 patients (9.3%), 41 patients (42.3%) and 15 patients (15.5%), respectively, in each group. The mean total DLQI score was 9.02. Domain 2 (daily activities, 2.87 points), which includes questions about clothing, was the most greatly impacted among patients. The total DLQI scores of patients who have experienced scar-related symptoms were significantly higher than those of patients without symptoms (p<0.05). The VSS scores were 3.09 for linear flat scars, 6.89 for linear bulging scars, 6.29 for hypertrophic scars and 5.60 for adhesive scars. However, the DLQI scores did not significantly differ among scar types or VSS scores.
Conclusion: Post-thyroidectomy scars on the neck affect the QoL of thyroid cancer patients regardless of scar type. Therefore, clinicians should pay attention to the psychological effects of scars on patients and take care to minimize post-thyroidectomy scar.
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