Clinical and prognostic role of detection timing of distant metastases in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer

Endocrine. 2019 Jan;63(1):79-86. doi: 10.1007/s12020-018-1713-2. Epub 2018 Aug 15.


Purpose: Distant metastases (DM) from DTC occur in 5-25% of cases and are correlated to lower survival; the prognostic significance of the temporal onset of DM is unclear. Our aim was to retrospectively analyze the prevalence of DM and to assess the prognostic role of the timing of manifestation of DM regarding the outcome.

Materials and methods: We included 174 patients (mean age 64 years). According to the time of manifestation, DM were divided in two groups: synchronous DM (SDM, n = 108) defined as metastases present at initial diagnosis and metachronous DM (MDM, n = 66) as diagnosed during follow-up. SDM were further sub grouped in pre-RAIT when diagnosed during pre-surgery work-up (n = 35) and baseline-RAIT when detected by first whole body scan after RAIT (n = 73). Disease-specific survival (DSS) was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method.

Results: Total RAI activities and number of treatments were significantly higher in MDM, also loss of RAI avidity was more frequent in MDM. Forty-four patients died during follow-up, of which 41 were DTC-related deaths, 5-year and 10-year DSS were 80% and 56%. On univariate analysis MDM had significantly shorter DSS; also histotype and RAI avidity were significant risk factors of impaired survival. On multivariate analysis, only loss of RAI avidity remained as independent negative predictor (p = 0.043). Considering SDM, DSS was significantly shorter in pre-RAIT group than baseline-RAIT (p = 0.004). Instead there was no significant difference between pre-RAIT-SDM and MDM in survival outcome (p = 0.875).

Conclusions: In DTC with DM, loss of RAI uptake has an important role in survival. No significant difference in survival outcome was discovered between SDM and MDM; but, among SDM, pre-RAIT had significant shorter DSS than baseline-RAIT.

Keywords: Differentiated thyroid cancer; Distant metastases; Prognosis; RAI.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Whole Body Imaging
  • Young Adult