Background/Purpose: It is generally believed that differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) in young patients has an excellent prognosis. This calls into question the need for more extensive surgical ablation of the thyroid gland with attendant risks of surgical complications. The purpose of this report was to investigate both the incidence of surgical morbidity and the impact of surgery on locoregional recurrence of disease. Methods: The authors reviewed the clinical course of patients under 22 years of age treated for DTC within Department of Defense hospitals since 1950. Data were available for determination of surgical morbidity in 126 and for outcome in 105. Results: The incidence of postoperative hypocalcemia was 17% and of recurrent laryngeal nerve injury 3%. Factors predictive of morbidity were (1) more extensive thyroid surgery (P = .023), and (2) the presence of gross tumor invasion (P = .022). The incidence of neck recurrence was analyzed among a cohort of 90 patients. A total of 19 (21%) patients had a local recurrence. The median time to recurrence was 24 months. The factor predictive of recurrence was the presence of gross invasion (P = .0001). A strong trend toward locoregional recurrence was found among patients with metastatic disease to more than five cervical nodes (P < .08). The primary operations on the thyroid and regional nodes were not significant predictors of neck recurrence. Among these 19 patients there have been no deaths, but 25% had persistent disease at a mean follow-up of 12.6 years. Conclusions: The incidence of surgical morbidity does increase with more extensive surgery. Outcome is predicted primarily by the initial extent of disease.
- Thyroid carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health