Papillary microcarcinoma

World J Surg. 2008 May;32(5):747-53. doi: 10.1007/s00268-007-9453-0.


Background: Papillary microcarcinoma (PMC) is increasing in incidence because of diagnosis by ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology.

Methods: Between January 1966 and December 1995, we treated 6019 patients with papillary cancer; among them, 2070 patients with PMC were studied.

Results: PMC is essentially very similar to papillary cancer that is 11 mm or larger and has a very good prognosis. Smaller tumors and younger patients have a better prognosis. Among PMC, larger tumors (6-10 mm) recur in 14% at 35 years compared with 3.3% in patients with smaller tumors. Patients older than 55 years have recurrence in 40% at 30 years, with a worse prognosis than younger patients who have a recurrence rate of less than 10%. Extracapsular invasion by the primary tumor also has a higher recurrence rate. The majority of recurrences are in the neck. Therefore, annual ultrasound of the neck is effective for recurrence surveillance.

Conclusion: Papillary microcarcinoma is similar to larger papillary carcinomas with tumor characteristics and age-based recurrence rate that extends for many years, justifying long surveillance after surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / surgery*
  • Child
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / mortality
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery*