The Prognostic Impact of Extent of Vascular Invasion in Follicular Thyroid Carcinoma

World J Surg. 2023 Feb;47(2):412-420. doi: 10.1007/s00268-022-06696-6. Epub 2022 Aug 28.


Background: Encapsulated angioinvasive follicular thyroid carcinoma (EAFTC) is associated with an increased risk of distant metastasis and reduced survival compared to minimally invasive follicular thyroid carcinoma (MIFTC). There is controversy regarding the extent of surgery and adjuvant radioactive iodine therapy for angioinvasive follicular thyroid carcinoma when stratified by number of foci of angioinvasion.

Methods: All follicular thyroid carcinoma cases from 1990-2018 were identified from a thyroid cancer database. Primary outcomes were distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) and disease-specific survival (DSS) with factors of interest being age, gender, tumour size, treatment, foci of angioinvasion and histological subtype.

Results: A total of 292 cases were identified; 139 MIFTC, 141 EAFTC and 12 widely invasive follicular thyroid carcinoma (WIFTC). Over a follow-up period of 6.25 years, DMFS was significantly reduced (p < 0.001) with 14.2% (EAFTC) and 50% of WIFTC developing metastasis. The risk of metastasis in EAFTC with ≥ 4 foci of angioinvasion was 31.7% (HR = 5.89, p = 0.004), 6.3% for EAFTC with < 4 foci of angioinvasion (HR = 1.74, p = 0.47), compared to 3.6% MIFTC. Age ≥ 50 years (HR = 4.24, p = 0.005) and tumour size (HR = 1.27, p = 0.014) were significantly associated with increased risk of distant metastasis. DSS was reduced significantly (p < 0.001), with 7.8% EAFTC patients dying of disease. For EAFTC patients, DSS was 96.8% for < 4 foci and 82.6% for ≥ 4 foci of angioinvasion (p = 0.003).

Conclusion: EAFTC is at increased risk of distant metastasis related to the extent of angioinvasion. Tumours with < 4 foci of angioinvasion should be considered for a total thyroidectomy, particularly in older patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular* / pathology
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy


  • Iodine Radioisotopes