Surgical Experience in Children With Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma

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The optimal surgical treatment in children with well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma remains an important point of discussion. In this study, we evaluated our surgical experience and reviewed the literature accordingly to identify the most adequate treatment.


We retrospectively analyzed 21 children, all under the age of 18 years at the time of diagnosis, with differentiated thyroid carcinoma (17 papillary, 3 follicular, and 1 Hürthle cell carcinoma). Total thyroidectomy was performed, followed by radioiodine therapy, as a part of the initial treatment in all patients. The results were compared with data from the literature.


Eleven children (52%) who presented with cervical lymph node metastases were treated by a modified radical neck dissection. Pulmonary metastases were seen at diagnosis in three patients. Six patients developed temporary complications. During follow-up, with a median of 11 years (range, 2-26 years), two patients (10%) developed recurrences, and no patient died during this observation period. A literature search confirmed our experience of excellent results without an increase of complications in the more aggressively treated patients.


In children with differentiated thyroid cancer, treatment should consist of total thyroidectomy, followed by a modified radical neck dissection (when indicated) and iodine-131 ablation treatment. This aggressive approach seems to be justified because of the high incidence of nodal involvement and the low complication and recurrence rate after surgery.

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