Context: Despite advances in thyroid cancer staging systems, considerable controversy about the current staging system for medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) continues.
Objective: We aimed to evaluate the prognostic performance of the current eighth edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC)/Union for International Cancer Control TNM staging system (TNM-8) and the alternative proposed prognostic stage groups based on recursive partitioning analysis (TNM-RPA).
Design, setting, and patients: We retrospectively analyzed 182 patients with MTC treated at a single tertiary Korean hospital between 1995 and 2015.
Interventions and main outcome measures: Survival analysis was conducted according to TNM-8 and TNM-RPA. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC), the proportion of variation explained (PVE), and the Harrell concordance index (C-index) were used to evaluate predictive performance.
Results: Under TNM-8, only two (1.1%) patients were downstaged compared with the seventh edition of the AJCC TNM staging system (TNM-7). The AUC at 10 years, PVE, and C-index were 0.679, 8.7%, and 0.744 for TNM-7 and 0.681, 8.9%, and 0.747 for TNM-8, respectively. Under TNM-RPA, 104 (57.14%) patients were downstaged compared with TNM-8. TNM-RPA had better prognostic performance with respect to cancer-specific survival (AUC at 10 years, 0.750; PVE, 20.9%; C-index, 0.881).
Conclusions: The predictive performance of the revised TNM-8 in patients with MTC has not changed despite its modification from TNM-7. The proposed changes in TNM-RPA were statistically valid and may present a more reproducible system that better estimates cancer-specific survival of individual patients.