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Long-term oncologic outcomes of papillary thyroid microcarcinoma according to the presence of clinically apparent lymph node metastasis: a large retrospective analysis of 5,348 patients

Authors Choi JB, Lee WK, Lee SG, Ryu H, Lee CR, Kang SW, Jeong JJ, Nam KH, Lee EJ, Chung WY, Jo YS, Lee J

Received 11 May 2018

Accepted for publication 26 June 2018

Published 27 August 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 2883—2891


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Antonella D'Anneo

Jung Bum Choi,1,* Woo Kyung Lee,2,3,* Seul Gi Lee,2,4 Haengrang Ryu,5 Cho Rok Lee,4 Sang Wook Kang,4 Jong Ju Jeong,4 Kee-Hyun Nam,4 Eun Jig Lee,2,3 Woong Youn Chung,4 Young Suk Jo,2,3 Jandee Lee4

1Department of Surgery, Pusan National University College of Medicine, Busan, South Korea; 2Brain Korea 21 PLUS Project for Medical Science, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea; 3Department of Internal Medicine, Severance Hospital, Yonsei Cancer Center, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea; 4Department of Surgery, Open NBI Convergence Technology Research Laboratory, Yonsei Cancer Center, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea; 5Department of Surgery, Hongik Hospital, Seoul, South Korea

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Purpose: Active surveillance (AS) of low-risk papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) may reduce the risk of overtreatment of clinically insignificant cancer. However, the absence of predictor for the progression of PTMC resulted in treatment delay and potentially compromising cure of aggressive disease. Therefore, to anticipate potential damage of delayed surgery, we investigated the oncologic outcomes of patients with low-risk PTMC initially eligible for AS except clinically apparent lymph node metastasis (LNM), imitating delayed surgery with neck dissection.
Materials and methods: A total of 5,348 patients, enrolled between 1987 and 2016, with low-risk PTMC initially eligible for AS were included regardless of LNM. We classified our study patients into two groups: Group I, lobectomy with prophylactic central cervical node dissection; Group II, total thyroidectomy with modified radical neck dissection for LNM. In addition, we investigated the oncological outcomes of patients with second-wave surgery due to lateral lymph node recurrence (Group III, subgroup of Group I).
Results: Group I showed more favorable clinicopathological characteristics compared with Group II. In Group I, only 29 (0.58%) of 4,927 patients underwent second-wave surgery with neck dissection for lateral lymph node recurrences, whereas in Group II, all 22 (5.23%) of 421 patients underwent second-wave selective node dissection because of nodal recurrence. Disease-free survival rates were significantly different between Groups I and II (P<0.05). Of note, the recurrence rate of Group II was still significantly higher than that of Group III (5.2% vs 0%, respectively; P=0.021). In addition, Kaplan–Mayer survival analysis indicated poor disease-free survival rates in Group II compared with Group III (P<0.05).
Conclusion: The long-term treatment outcome of PTMC without LNM was favorable even if the recurrence occurs during follow-up period compared with that of PTMC with LNM. It should be noted that AS might be able to cause poor prognosis due to clinically apparent LNM.

Keywords: active surveillance, papillary thyroid microcarcinoma, lymphatic metastasis, neoplasm recurrence

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