Background: Serum thyroglobulin detection plays an essential role during the follow-up of thyroid cancer patients treated with total/near total thyroidectomy and radioiodine ablation. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the relationship between stimulated serum thyroglobulin (Tg) level at the time of high dose 131I ablation and risk of recurrence, using a three-level classification in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) according to the ATA guidelines. Also we investigated the relationship between postoperative stimulated Tg at the time of ablation and DxWBS results at 8-10 months thereafter.
Materials and methods: Patients with radioiodine accumulation were regarded as scan positive (scan +). If there was no relevant pathological radioiodine accumulation or minimal local accumulation in the thyroid bed region, this were regarded as scan negative (scan-) at the time of DxWBS. We classified patients in 3 groups as low, intermediate and high risk group for assessment of risk of recurrence according to the revised ATA guidelines. Also, we divided patients into 3 groups based on the stimulated serum Tg levels at the time of 131I ablation therapy. Groups 1-3 consisted of patients who had Tg levels of ≤ 2 ng/ml, 2-10 ng/ml, and ≥ 10 ng/ml, respectively.
Results: A total of 221 consecutive patients were included. In the high risk group according to the ATA guideline, while 45.5% of demonstrated Scan(+) Tg(+), 27.3% of patients demonstrated Scan(-) Tg(-); in the intermediate group, the figures were 2.3% and 90.0% while in the low risk group, they were 0.6% and 96.4%. In 9 of 11 patients with metastases (81.8%), stimulated serum Tg level at the time of radioiodine ablation therapy was over 10, however in 1 patient (9.1%) it was < 2 ng/mL and in one patient it was 2-10 ng/mL (p = 0.005). Aggressive subtypes of DTC were found in 8 of 221 patients and serum Tg levels were ≤ 2 ng/ml in 4 of these 8.
Conclusions: We conclude that TSH-stimulated serum thyroglobulin level at the time of ablation may not determine risk of recurrence. Therefore, DxWBS should be performed at 8-12 months after ablation therapy.