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Is there a role for unstimulated thyroglobulin velocity in predicting recurrence in papillary thyroid carcinoma patients with detectable thyroglobulin after radioiodine ablation?

Hilda Wong, Kai P Wong, Thomas Yau, Vikki Tang, Roland Leung, Joanne Chiu, Brian Hung-Hin Lang
Annals of Surgical Oncology 2012, 19 (11): 3479-85
22576067

BACKGROUND: In the follow-up of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) patients treated with curative thyroidectomy and radioiodine ablation, raised thyroglobulin (Tg) predicts recurrence with reasonable sensitivity and specificity. However, a proportion of patients present with raised Tg level but no other clinical evidence of disease. Only limited data on Tg kinetics have been reported to date. Here we aim to evaluate the prognostic and predictive significance of nonstimulated serum Tg velocity (TgV).

METHODS: Consecutive PTC patients treated with curative thyroidectomy and radioiodine ablation between 2003 and 2010 were analyzed. Patients with at least one detectable Tg measurement (>0.2 ng/mL) were included. TgV was defined as the annualized rate of Tg change. Logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the role of TgV in the prediction of disease recurrence. The optimal TgV cutoff was assigned by receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis. Overall survival of patients above versus below the TgV cutoff were determined by the Kaplan-Meier method and compared.

RESULTS: Of a total of 501 patients, 87 had at least one Tg value >0.2 ng/mL; in these latter patients, 29 (33.3%) developed recurrence. TgV was an independent predictor of the recurrence. TgV ≥0.3 ng/mL per year predicted recurrence with a sensitivity of 83.3% and specificity of 94.4%. Patients with TgV below the cutoff had a significantly better overall survival (p = 0.038).

CONCLUSIONS: TgV predicts recurrence with high sensitivity and specificity, and is a prognosticator of survival in postthyroidectomy and postablation PTC patients with raised Tg.

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