Papillary thyroid carcinoma: factors influencing recurrence and survival

Ann Surg Oncol. 2008 May;15(5):1518-22. doi: 10.1245/s10434-008-9859-4. Epub 2008 Mar 7.


Background: The prognosis of patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is usually favorable; however, a subset of patients can develop local recurrence or distant metastases. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic factors influencing the recurrence and the survival rate in 950 PTC patients.

Materials and methods: From 1990 to 2005, 950 consecutive patients affected by PTC were operated on at our Department. We analyzed the prognostic role of the following parameters: gender, age at initial treatment, extent of thyroid surgery, node dissection, tumor size, node metastases, distant metastases, stage, and 131-I therapy.

Results: Seventy-nine patients (8.3%) developed locoregional or distant metastases after an average follow-up of 7.8 years (range 2-17 years); in particular local recurrence was observed in 25 cases and distant metastases in 54 cases. The global 10- and 15-year survival rates were 91.38% and 88.69%, respectively. At univariate analysis, all variables were significantly correlated with recurrence (P = .001) except gender (P = .3); moreover, gender (P = .2), node dissection (P = .5), and node metastases (P = .06) were not significant on 10- and 15-year survival. At multivariate analysis the age at first treatment, T4, M+, stage IV, the extent of thyroid surgery, and the 131-I therapy resulted to be significant and independent prognostic factors (P < .001).

Conclusion: Our data, in disagreement with other staging systems, suggest that gender does not play a significant role both in recurrence and survival. Moreover, the 131-I therapy was a statistically significant prognostic factor at univariate and multivariate analyses.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / therapy
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Iodine Radioisotopes