Purpose: Whether thyroid nodules 4 cm or larger with benign cytology carry a higher risk of malignancy, and should be managed differently than smaller nodules remains controversial. We aimed to evaluate the malignancy rate and benign cytology false-negative rate in thyroid nodules ≥4 cm compared with those <4 cm.
Methods: All thyroidectomies between January 2010 and December 2014 were reviewed. Patient demographics, preoperative sonographic nodule size, fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC), and final surgical pathology results were compared for index nodules ≥4 vs. <4 cm.
Results: A total of 490 index nodules with preoperative FNAC were identified. A total of 137 nodules were ≥4 cm and 353 nodules were <4 cm. The prevalence of carcinoma was lower (23 vs. 53%) in nodules ≥4 vs. <4 cm (p < 0.0001). The false-negative rate of benign FNAC for ≥4 and <4 cm index nodule was 5.2% and 5.9%, respectively (p = 1.000).
Conclusions: This study shows that thyroid nodules ≥4 cm do not have a higher malignancy rate at surgery nor higher benign cytology false-negative rate than smaller nodules. Thyroid nodules over 4 cm do not require resection, to rule out malignancy, based on size alone.
Keywords: False-negative rate; Size; Thyroid carcinoma; Thyroid nodule; ≥4 cm.