Surgical Experience in Children With Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma

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Abstract

Background:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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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