Background. The pathologic tumor-node-metastasis (pTNM) system is universally used to define the extent of disease in human malignancies. This study evaluated the impact of initial therapy on cause-specific mortality (CSM) rates and recurrence rates in pTNM stage III papillary thyroid carcinoma. Methods. Three hundred patients (median age, 58 years) were followed on average for 14 postoperative years. Of these, 246 patients (82%) had complete primary tumor resection; 208 patients (69%) had nodal metastases; 161 (54%) had locally invasive primary tumors; 45 patients (15%) underwent initial unilateral lobectomy (UL). Bilateral lobar resection (BLR) accounted for 242 patients (near-total, 54%; total thyroidectomy, 23%). Results. The 30-year rates for CSM, distant metastases, nodal metastases, and local recurrence (LR) were 29%, 22%, 19%, and 16%, respectively. The 20-year rates for CSM were significantly higher (50% vs 14.%) when primary tumor was incompletely resected (P = .0001). After complete resection, 20-year rates for CSM and LR after BLR were 12% and 10%, respectively, which were significantly lower (P < .05) than the 23% and 26% rates seen after UL. There were no significant differences in nodal metastases or distant metastases rates between UL and BLR (P > .4). The 20-year LR rate after total thyroidectomy (13%) was not different (P = .5) from the 11% seen after near- total thyroidectomy. Conclusions. In this nonrandomized evaluation of patients with pTNM stage III papillary thyroid carcinoma, the extent of primary thyroid resection appeared to significantly impact CSM and LR but did not apparently influence regional or distant metastasis.
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