Metastases to the thyroid gland: the Royal Marsden experience

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2004 Aug;30(6):583-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2004.03.012.


Aim: A review of patients seen at the Royal Marsden Hospital with metastases to the thyroid gland.

Method: Experience reported on 15 patients that were seen at our institution between 1985 and 2002.

Results: The most common site of origin was the kidney (4/15). Ages ranged between 26 and 76 years. Twelve presented with a neck mass. Most had metastatic disease elsewhere at the time of presentation (9/15). Diagnosis was made by fine needle aspiration cytology (5), tru-cut biopsy (1), or surgery (9); surgery comprised total thyroidectomy (3), subtotal thyroidectomy (3) or lobectomy (3). Radiotherapy resulted in disease stabilisation in three patients. Chemotherapy was used to treat local recurrence in two patients post-operatively. The interval from diagnosis of the primary tumour to thyroid metastasis varied from 0 months to 15 years. Thyroid gland metastasis was the initial manifestation of metastatic disease in five patients. Five patients are alive, with one disease free 7 years following resection of the thyroid metastasis.

Conclusions: Thyroid metastases are clinically rare, with the kidney the most common primary site of origin. They usually occur when there are metastases elsewhere, sometimes many years after diagnosis of the original primary tumour. Surgical resection of an isolated metastasis may result in prolonged disease-free survival. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be of value in specific situations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / therapy
  • Thyroidectomy