Introduction: Differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) is the most common endocrine malignancy in children. Retrospective studies show conflicting results regarding predictors of persistent and recurrent disease after initial therapy. In 2015, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) proposed a clinical classification system to identify pediatric thyroid cancer patients at risk for persistent/recurrent disease.
Material and methods: We retrospectively included all patients in our registry diagnosed with papillary DTC at ≤ 18 years of age. We analyzed the prognostic performance of the ATA classification and other risk factors for predicting response to initial treatment and final outcome in pediatric DTC.
Results: We included 41 patients, 34 females and 7 males, diagnosed with papillary DTC at a mean (SD) age of 16.2 (1.8) years. Based on the ATA pediatric risk classification, patients were categorized as low (61%), intermediate (10%), or high risk (29%). The median follow-up period was 7.3 (1-41) years. After initial treatment, disease free status was achieved in 92%, 50%, and 42% of the low, intermediate, and high risk groups, respectively (P <0.01). At the last visit, persistent disease was present in 12%, 25%, and 33% (P=0.27). Assessing other risk factors, only the presence of distant metastases at diagnosis resulted in increased presence of persistent disease at last follow-up (P=0.03).
Conclusion: This study supports the clinical relevance of the ATA risk classification for predicting the response to initial treatment. There was no clear prediction of long-term outcome, but this may be due to limited power caused by the small number of patients.