Therapeutic Strategies and Clinical Outcome in Papillary Thyroid Microcarcinoma: A Multicenter Observational Study

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Papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (MPTC) has an excellent prognosis. We aimed to evaluate the evolution of therapeutic strategies over time and the clinical outcome of MPTC.


In this retrospective multicenter observational study in a northwest Italian region, patients with intrathyroidal, unifocal tumor ≤1 cm in size, incidentally found at histology or preoperative cytology diagnosis, were included. Exclusion criteria were a previous head-and-neck irradiation and/or node metastases.


From 1985 to 2012, 437 patients had an MPTC diagnosis, which was incidental in 85% and preoperative in 15%. Patients with a preoperative diagnosis were younger at the time of diagnosis (47.6 ± 12.7 years, p < 0.01) and had a larger tumor (7.0 ± 2.5 mm, p < 0.0001) than patients with an incidental diagnosis (age 52 ± 13.5 years, size 4.4 ± 2.8 mm), but there were no differences in clinical outcome between both groups. We observed a significant (p < 0.001) reduction in radioiodine remnant ablation during the years. TSH levels were: <0.1 mIU/l in 27.5%, 0.1-0.5 mlU/l in 33.7%, 0.5-2.5 mlU/l in 32.6%, 2.5-4.2 mlU/l in 3.9%, and >4.2 mlU/l in 2.3% of patients. Six patients (1.37%) had nodal recurrence; 5 of them were cured after therapy. MPTC-linked mortality was null.


We confirmed the favorable clinical outcome of MPTC. Despite the reduction in radioiodine ablation, overtreatment of MPTC is still observed.

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