What Do Korean Women Know and Want to Know about Thyroid Cancer? A Qualitative Study

Document Type : Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


1 National Cancer Control Institute, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi- do, Republic of Korea

2 National Cancer Control Institute, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

3 Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, National Cancer Center, Goyang-si, Gyeonggido, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

4 Graduate School of Communication, Sogang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Background: Despite increasing debate about overdiagnosis and overtreatment of thyroid cancer in Korea, information to guide decisions on whether or not to undergo screening for and treatment of abnormal lesions of the thyroid is lacking. Moreover, studies have yet to outline what lay people know and want to know about thyroid cancer. The primary aim of this study was to explore general awareness of thyroid cancer among Korean women, their sources of information, and their satisfaction with the information they are provided. The secondary aim was to investigate information needs about thyroid cancer.
Materials and Methods: A qualitative study using focus group interviews was conducted. Twenty-nine women were divided into four groups: (1) participants who had never undergone thyroid ultrasound screening; (2) those who had undergone screening, (3) those who continued to undergo regular check-ups with ultrasonography for benign nodules of the thyroid; and (4) participants who had undergone surgery for thyroid cancer.
Results: A widespread lack of awareness of information on thyroid cancer was noted among participants in groups 1 and 2 who were not well aware of thyroid cancer and generally recognized it as a ‘good cancer’. Surprisingly, instead of doctors and medical personnel, most participants reported obtaining information from acquaintances and media outlets. Moreover, most participants described dissatisfaction with their experience with screening and a lack of explanation on treatment and test results from medical personnel.
Conclusions: Women in Korea seek reliable information on thyroid cancer that could help them to better understand the disease and make informed decisions regarding screening and treatment. More effort is needed from medical personnel to communicate the implications of thyroid cancer, screening results, and treatments thereof to lay people.