Purpose: Current management for patients with differentiated thyroid cancer includes near total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine therapy followed by administration of supraphysiological doses of levothyroxine (L-T4). Although hyperthyroidism is a well known risk factor for osteoporosis, the effects of L-T4 treatment on bone mineral density (BMD) in patients with thyroid cancer do not appear to be as significant as with endogenous hyperthyroidism. In this study, we evaluated the impact of long-term suppressive therapy with L-T4 on BMD and bone turn over markers in Korean female patients receiving L-T4 suppressive therapy. Methods: We enrolled 94 female subjects (mean age, 50.84 ± 11.43 years) receiving L-T4 after total or near total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer (mean follow-up period, 12.17 ± 4.27 years). The subjects were divided into three groups by thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level (group 1 with TSH level =0.001 μIU/mL, group 2 with TSH level between 0.001 and 0.17 μIU/mL, group 3 with TSH level >0.17 μIU/mL) and four groups by quartile of free T4 level. L-T4 dosage, BMD (examined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), and bone turnover markers were evaluated according to TSH and free T4 levels. Results: No significant decrease was detected in BMD or bone turnover markers according to TSH level or free T4 level. Also, the prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia was not different among groups. Conclusion: Long-term L-T4 suppressive therapy after thyroid cancer management did not affect bone density or increase the prevalence of osteoporosis even though TSH levels were supraphysiologically suppressed.
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