Thyroglossal Duct Cyst Carcinoma: A Systematic Review of Clinical Features and Outcomes

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Although thyroglossal duct cysts (TGDCs) are relatively common, malignancies within these lesions are infrequent. As a result, there are no large-scale series describing clinical characteristics. Our objectives were to perform a systematic review of the literature evaluating patient demographics, pathology, management, and prognosis of these patients.

Data Sources

PubMed, Embase, Cochrane reviews, and Google Scholar were searched for relevant articles. Articles meeting inclusion criteria were reviewed for data detailing epidemiology, treatment, and outcomes.

Review Methods

Inclusion criteria included English-language articles with original reports on human subjects. Two investigators independently reviewed all articles for the data collected, including epidemiology, treatment, and outcomes.


Ninety-eight articles comprising 164 patients were included in the final analysis. The mean age at presentation was 39.5 years (9-83 years); 68.3% of patients were female. In total, 73.3% of cases were found on final pathologic analysis. The most common pathology was papillary cancer (92.1%). Of the patients, 98.9% underwent a Sistrunk procedure and 61.0% underwent total thyroidectomy. There was a 4.3% recurrence rate with a mean time to recurrence of 42.1 months from initial treatment. One patient died of TGDC carcinoma, while all other patients were disease free at the time of last follow-up (mean follow-up was 46.1 months).


TGDC carcinoma is typically diagnosed on final pathology. While management encompasses a Sistrunk procedure, further consideration should be given to thyroidectomy among patients ≥45 years of age and individuals with aggressive disease. TGDC carcinoma harbors an exceedingly low rate of mortality.

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