Background: Although microscopic positive margins appear to have no independent prognostic impact in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), this may not be the case in pT4a tumors.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of 610 patients with PTC, 39 with pT4a tumors, to determine if microscopic positive margins impact disease-free survival (DFS) in pT4a PTC.
Results: On univariate analysis, microscopic positive margins were not associated with reduced DFS in patients with no extrathyroidal extension (ETE) (hazard ratio [HR], 1.7; P = 0.32), microscopic ETE (HR, 1.6; P = 0.36), or macroscopic ETE limited to strap muscles (HR, 1.2; P = 0.87). In contrast, microscopic positive margins were associated with reduced DFS in T4a disease (HR, 4.1; P = 0.04). Disease recurrence was nodal, distant, or biochemical, and did not occur directly at the site of positive margins.
Conclusion: Although microscopic positive margins do not influence DFS in the majority of patients with PTC, they are associated with a fourfold increased risk of recurrence in pT4a disease.
Keywords: aerodigestive tract; extrathyroidal extension; papillary carcinoma; positive margins; radioactive iodine; thyroid cancer.
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.