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Thyroidectomy as Treatment of Choice for Differentiated Thyroid Cancer.

BACKGROUND: Despite a large amount of data, the optimal surgical management of differentiated thyroid cancer remains controversial. Current guidelines recommend total thyroidectomy if primary thyroid cancer is >4 cm, while for tumors that are between 1 and 4 cm in size, either a bilateral or a unilateral thyroidectomy may be appropriate as surgical treatment. In general, total thyroidectomy would seem to be preferable because subtotal resection can be correlated with a higher risk of local recurrences and cervical lymph node metastases; on the other hand, total thyroidectomy is associated with more complications.

METHODS: This is a retrospective study conducted on 359 patients with differentiated thyroid cancer, subjected to total thyroidectomy. Our aim was to correlate clinical and pathological features (extrathyroid tumor growth, bilaterality, nodal and distant metastasis) with patient (gender and age) and tumor (size and histotype) characteristics. Moreover, we recorded postoperative complications, including hypoparathyroidism and laryngeal nerve damage.

RESULTS: In our study, we found a high occurrence of pathological features indicating cancer aggressiveness (bilaterality, nodal metastases, and extrathyroid invasion). On the other hand, total thyroidectomy was associated with relatively low postsurgical complication rates.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data support the view that total thyroidectomy remains the first choice for the routine treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer.

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