A retrospective study was designed to evaluate the results of surgical treatment and follow-up data in thyroid cancer patients less than 15 years old at the time of surgery.
Summary Background Data:
Pediatric thyroid carcinomas have a high rate of lymph nodal and distant metastases. Risk factors for recurrences and postoperative morbidity have not been assessed yet in a representative series.
The group included 740 pediatric patients with thyroid cancer. Total thyroidectomy was performed in 426 (57.6%), lobectomy in 248 (33.5%), subtotal thyroidectomy in 58 (7.8%) cases, and 8 patients (1.1%) underwent partial lobectomy.
The mean follow-up period was 115.8 months (range, 1.5–236.4 months). Recurrence was diagnosed in 204 cases (27.6%), including 73 local relapses (9.9%), 90 distant metastases (12.2%), and a combination of local and distant recurrences in 41 (5.5%) patients. Multivariate statistical assessment revealed the following independent parameters significantly associated with the risk of recurrent nodal disease: a young age at diagnosis, multifocal carcinomas, N1 status, and lack of neck lymph node dissection. For lung metastases, the significant risk factors were female gender, young age at diagnosis, and presence of symptoms. The observed 5- and 10-year survival for the entire group was 99.5% and 98.8%, respectively. Postoperative hypoparathyroidism was significantly associated with multifocal tumors, central compartment removal, and ipsilateral dissection.
Total thyroidectomy followed by radioiodine therapy is an optimal treatment strategy that makes it possible to achieve a cure in a vast majority of pediatric patients with differentiated thyroid carcinomas. Risk of recurrence is strongly associated with tumor stage, extent of surgery, the young patient's age, and presence of symptoms at diagnosis.