Background Intense disease surveillance and frequent lymph node metastases (LNMs) in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) have resulted in increased locoregional recurrences. We examined the safety and efficacy of an optimized surgical approach including preoperative ultrasonograpy (US), bilateral thyroidectomy, routine compartment VI dissection, and lateral neck dissection for LNM. Methods During 1999-2006, a total of 420 patients underwent optimized primary surgery; 291(69%) females, median age 46 years; follow-up 98%, median 4.4 years. Patients were reviewed for tumor characteristics, pattern of LNM, staging, and outcomes. Results Total or near-total thyroidectomy was performed in 212 (51%) and 208 (49%) patients, respectively. Tumors were multicentric, 40% (average 1.7 cm); were bilateral, 30%; and showed extrathyroidal extension, 17%. Overall, 223 (53%) patients had LNMs: 213 (51%) were central and 85 (20%) were lateral jugular. pTNM staging: I, 258 (61%); II, 35 (8%); III, 88 (21%); IV, 39 (9%). AGES (age, grade, extension, and size-thyroid tumor; and MACIS (metastasis, age, completeness of resection, invasion, and size) prognostic scores were low risk in 362 (86%) and 352 (84%), respectively. Relapse developed in 57 (14%) patients: LNM in 44, soft tissue local recurrence (LR) in 5, distant metastases (DM) in 8. Hypoparathyroidism occurred in 5 (1.2%) patients and 1 had unintentional laryngeal nerve damage. Relapse with LNM occurred in previously operated fields in 19 (5%) patients, 11(3%) from disease virulence (LR or DM), preoperative false-negative (FN) US in 12 (3%), and combination of FN-US and recurrence in the operated field in 5 (1%) patients. Conclusions Recurrence was limited to 5% of patients when the extent of disease was accurately defined and potentially curable. This optimized surgical strategy is relatively safe.
ASJC Scopus subject areas