Optimal surgical management of well-differentiated thyroid cancer arising in struma ovarii: a series of 4 patients and a review of 53 reported cases

Thyroid. 2012 Apr;22(4):400-6. doi: 10.1089/thy.2011.0162. Epub 2011 Dec 19.


Background: Well-differentiated thyroid cancer arising in struma ovarii is rare. The optimal management of this entity remains undefined. Unilateral cystectomy, unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (USO), or total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (TAH/BSO), in addition to total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine (RAI) ablation, have been employed by various groups. We hypothesized that in patients with thyroid cancer arising within struma ovarii, pelvic surgery alone would be sufficient, provided there is no evidence of gross extra-ovarian extension.

Methods: We review a series of four patients from a single institution and 53 cases from the literature, comparing the extent of treatment and outcomes. Our literature review focused on low-risk patients with struma ovarii confined to the ovary, without evidence of gross extra-ovarian spread or distant metastases. Cumulative recurrence rate was determined by using the Kaplan-Meier method.

Results: We report the treatment of four patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer arising within struma ovarii. Patients underwent USO, BSO, or TAH/BSO. One patient underwent prophylactic total thyroidectomy in anticipation of RAI treatment, and was found to have a synchronous papillary thyroid carcinoma. All patients clinically remain without evidence of disease at a median follow-up of 9 (range 0.8-13) years. Treatment strategies in 53 cases from a review of the literature varied. The pooled cumulative recurrence rate of 57 cases with struma ovarii confined to the ovary was 7.5% at 25 years.

Conclusions: Thyroid cancer arising in struma ovarii is rare. Controversy exists regarding the extent of pelvic resection and management of the thyroid gland. In our series of four patients, all patients are alive without evidence of disease, and the 25-year recurrence rate of 57 cases was low (7.5%), despite a variety of approaches to surgical resection and adjuvant treatment. Extensive pelvic surgery and prophylactic total thyroidectomy to facilitate RAI therapy may be reserved for patients with gross extra-ovarian extension or distant metastases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Papillary, Follicular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary, Follicular / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary, Follicular / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Cysts / pathology
  • Ovariectomy
  • Pelvis / surgery
  • Struma Ovarii / pathology*
  • Struma Ovarii / surgery*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Treatment Outcome