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Time-Varying Pattern of Mortality and Recurrence from Papillary Thyroid Cancer: Lessons from a Long-Term Follow-Up

Wenwu Dong, Kiyomi Horiuchi, Hiroki Tokumitsu, Akiko Sakamoto, Eiichiro Noguchi, Yoshinori Ueda, Takahiro Okamoto
Thyroid: Official Journal of the American Thyroid Association 2019 May 1
Background: Little is known about annual hazard rates of cancer mortality and recurrence for papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). This study investigated the time-varying pattern of cancer death and recurrence from PTC and independent prognostic factors for cause-specific mortality (CSM) and recurrence of PTC. Methods: This retrospective chart review enrolled 466 patients diagnosed with PTC who underwent curative initial surgery between April 1981 and December 1991 with a median follow-up of 18.4 years. Clinical characteristics, cancer mortality (primary endpoint), and recurrence (secondary endpoint) were ascertained. The failure rates of either death or recurrence were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier methods, and annual death/recurrence hazard was depicted using hazard function. Results: In this Japanese cohort where only 1.5% of patients received radioactive iodine therapy, the 10-, 20-, and 30-year CSM rates were 2.7%, 6.2%, and 8.6%, respectively. Eleven (44.0%) cases of death occurred within the first 10 years, whereas 10 (40.0%) and 4 (16.0%) cases occurred within 10-20 and 20-30 years after surgery, respectively. The 10-, 20-, and 30-year recurrence rates were 11.3%, 21.8%, and 29.4%, respectively. Forty-six (54.8%) cases of recurrence occurred within the first 10 years, predominantly within the first five years (31 cases; 36.9%), whereas 29 (34.5%), 7 (8.3%), and 2 (2.4%) cases occurred within 10-20, 20-30, and ≥30 years after surgery, respectively. Age ≥55 years was the only independent prognostic factor for CSM. Age ≥55 years, male, tumor size > 4 cm, extranodal extension, and positive pathological lymph node metastasis were independent prognostic factors for recurrence. The annual hazard curve of cancer mortality presented a double-peaked distribution, with a first peak at the 10th year, and the second peak reaching the maximum at the 20th year after surgery for the entire population. The annual hazard curve of recurrence showed a triple-peaked pattern, with surges at about 12, 22, and 29 years after surgery. Conclusions: Patients with PTC harboring at least one of the prognostic characteristics may be at persistent risk of cancer mortality and recurrence even 10 or more years after initial treatment. Understanding the hazard rate of PTC is key to creating more tailored treatment and surveillance.


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