Adequate surgery for papillary thyroid cancer

D. M. Elaraj, C. Sturgeon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is the most common type of thyroid cancer, occurring in about 80% of cases. Treatment consists of surgery, selective adjuvant radioiodine ablation, thyroid stimulating hormone suppression and surveillance. The extent of thyroidectomy and the extent of lymphadenectomy are controversial. Total or near-total thyroidectomy is recommended for the treatment ofPTC, except those with papillary microcarcinoma (PTC <1cm) found incidentally after a thyroid lobectomy. This allows for treatment of possible multifocality (up to 80% of cases), facilitates the use of radioiodine for remnant ablation and increases the sensitivity of thyroglobulin levels for surveillance, with complication rates comparable to lobectomy when done by experienced endocrine surgeons. A recent large database study supports this recommendation for PTCs ≥ 1cm; the optimal treatment of PTCs <1cm is still debatable, though many surgeons will perform total or near-total thyroidectomy for the reasons listed above. Contemporary series report lymph node metastases in up to 64% of patients, though their clinical significance is unclear. Reports are conflicting with respect to the impact of cervical nodal metastases on recurrence rates and survival, which are also affected by other patient, tumour and treatment-related factors. Therapeutic lymph node dissection is indicated for biopsy-proven nodal metastases. Prophylactic lateral neck lymphadenectomy is not recommended by experts in Europe and the USA. Prophylactic central neck lymphadenectomy is controversial, and may be advocated in selected patients while balancing the risks of the procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-289
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


  • extent of surgery
  • lymph node dissection
  • lymphadenectomy
  • papillary thyroid cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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