A comparison of the clinicopathological features and prognoses of the classical and the tall cell variant of papillary thyroid cancer: a meta-analysis

Oncotarget. 2017 Jan 24;8(4):6222-6232. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.14055.


Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) accounts for 80-90% of all thyroid malignancies. The tall cell variant (TCV) is a rare aggressive histotype of PTC. We performed a meta-analysis to compare the clinicopathological characteristics and prognostic factors of TCV with those of classical papillary thyroid carcinoma (cPTC). A literature search was performed using the PubMed and EMBASE databases using Medical Subject Headings and keywords. Twenty studies that included 1871 patients with TCV and 75323 patients with cPTC were included in our meta-analysis. Odds ratios and confidence intervals were calculated for each study. Patients with TCV were associated with multifocality, higher TNM stage, extrathyroidal extension, vascular invasion, lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis, BRAF mutation, disease-specific survival, and overall survival. We found that TCV cases were associated with more aggressive clinicopathological characteristics and poorer prognoses than cPTC cases were. Our results suggest that TCV is a high-risk PTC that warrants aggressive treatment and follow-up strategies.

Keywords: clinicopathological features; meta–analysis; mortality risk; papillary thyroid carcinoma; tall cell variant.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / therapy
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary
  • Odds Ratio
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / mortality
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf