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Impact of cervical lymph node dissection on serum TG and the course of disease in TG-positive, radioactive iodine whole body scan-negative recurrent/persistent papillary thyroid cancer

A S Alzahrani, H Raef, A Sultan, S Al Sobhi, S Ingemansson, M Ahmed, A Al Mahfouz
Journal of Endocrinological Investigation 2002, 25 (6): 526-31
12109624
In the management of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), surgery is indicated for locoregional recurrent/persistent disease. In this study, we examined the effect of such surgery on serum TG and the course of the disease in 21 patients with PTC (mean age 38.5 yr), who after the initial surgery and radioactive iodine (RAI) ablation developed high TG (>10 ng/ml) and negative 123I whole body scan (DxWBS). All patients had neck persistent/recurrent PTC that was confirmed by ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration. Prior to neck re-exploration, radiological studies (chest X-rays, CT scan of the chest, and fluoro-18-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography [FDG-PET]) showed no evidence of distant metastases. TG autoantibodies were negative in 19 patients. Second surgery consisted of unilateral (13 patients) or bilateral (8 patients) modified neck dissection. The mean+/-SE TG prior to neck re-exploration was 184.8+/-79.0 ng/ml and declined after surgery to 127.5+/-59.0 ng/ml (p=0.25). The corresponding TSH values were 150.6+/-23.0 and 143.4+/-20.0 mU/l, respectively (p=0.34). After a mean follow-up of 20.7+/-3 months, TG increased to 168+/-68.0 ng/ml. This increase, however, was NS (p=0.67). The corresponding TSH values were 143.4+/-20.0 and 132.0+/-22.0 mU/l (p=0.27). Following second surgery, only 4 patients achieved remission, the other 17 patients received one or more of the following therapies; RAI (10 patients), third surgery (5 patients), and/or external radiation (7 patients). Thirteen patients continued to have persistent disease and 4 patients showed progressive course of their disease (distant metastases or grossly palpable neck disease). In conclusion, second surgery for recurrent/persistent PTC leads to remission in only a minority of cases but the course of the disease tends to be stable in most cases.

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