Management of well-differentiated thyroid cancer in 2010: Perspectives of a head and neck surgical oncologist

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Abstract

Objective: To review the terminology and controversy regarding the performance of prophylactic lymph node dissection for patients without evidence suggestive of pathologic adenopathy. Methods: Terminology of lymph node levels in the neck and chest, and the issues regarding lymph node dissection, are reviewed. In addition, differences between lymph nodes are reviewed and discussed. Results: Management of lymph nodes in this disease process has become the most contentious aspect of surgical decision-making due to the ambiguity of their prognostic significance and the prevalence of nodal metastases in very early primary tumors. Performance of prophylactic central compartment node dissection is not technically any more difficult than therapeutic node dissection when clinically significant nodes are encountered. It is therefore reasonable to consider this technique as an important adjunct to a total thyroidectomy for the purpose of enhanced disease staging, prevention of nodal recurrence, and avoidance of having to re-enter the previously operated central compartment. A recent study is reviewed and discussed in detail. The literature regarding the prognostic significance of extracapsular spread in lymph nodes is also presented. Conclusions: Morphologic characteristics of metastatic lymph nodes in thyroid cancer vary greatly. However, the reporting of these differences is lacking. The presence of extracapsular extension in a lymph node has prognostic significance. The clinician should be aware of these variations and the impact that they may have on recurrence risk and disease-specific survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-912
Number of pages10
JournalEndocrine Practice
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

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