Patients with the follicular variant of papillary thyroid cancer were seen to have less invasion of their tumors, less frequently involved lymph nodes, lower stages of papillary thyroid cancer and didn’t require radioactive iodine treatment as frequently as the classic and tall-cell variants. Cancer recurrence was seen in 16% of classic, 9% follicular, and 27% in tall-cell papillary thyroid cancer. The rate of death was lowest in the follicular variant 0.6%, followed by 2.5% of classic and 6.7% of tall-cell. When they looked only at patients under age 45, the risk for recurrence and death was not different between the three variants of papillary thyroid cancer, however, those younger than age 45 had slightly greater rate of death than the other variants.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS STUDY?
The results of this study show that the three major papillary thyroid cancer variants have an order of risk: tall-cell > classic > follicular. This is important for patients because it helps the physician customize management of each patient’s cancer instead of requiring all patients to be treated the same way. This would be especially important for patients with the follicular variant of papillary thyroid cancer which this study showed have better outcomes than both classic and tall-cell papillary thyroid cancer.
— Wendy Sacks, MD
ATA THYROID BROCHURE LINKS
Thyroid cancer: http://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-cancer/