Patient age at diagnosis is a well established prognostic factor for thyroid cancer survival; it is included in the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) thyroid cancer-staging system. This review provides an update on the epidemiology, risk stratification, and staging of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), in the context of patient age.
In the eighth edition AJCC staging system for DTC, the age cut-point was increased from 45 to 55 years. The appropriate age-cut point remains a subject of debate, as some studies have found a linear association of age and survival, and therefore, questioned the use of an age cut-point in the DTC staging system altogether. Emerging data on the additive role of molecular markers in the compromised survival of older patients with DTC raise the prospect of eventual inclusion of genetic markers in the management of patients and risk-stratification systems.
DTC staging is evolving. The pathogenesis of the compromised survival of older patients with DTC is complex, multifactorial, and not well understood. Recent advances in molecular testing are promising. More studies are needed prior to the formal inclusion of molecular markers in the staging system of DTC.
aDepartment of Surgery, Section of Endocrine Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
bDepartment of Surgery, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, Caifornia, USA
Correspondence to Julie A. Sosa, MD, MA, Department of Surgery, University of California at San Francisco-UCSF, 513 Parnassus Avenue, Suite S320, Box 0104, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org