Newswise — Cancer recurrence is more common in patients with multifocal micropapillary cancer who are treated with less than near total thyroidectomy compared to patients with unifocal papillary cancer who are treated with less than near total thyroidectomy, according to data presented on Oct 2, 2008 at the 79th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) in Chicago, IL.

Micropapillary thyroid cancer (mPTC) refers to papillary cancers that are 10 mm or less in size. If there is more than one focus of cancer in the thyroid, it is called multifocal. Surgery has been considered for mPTC, though currently there is no standard recommended treatment for this illness. Although death from mPTC is very rare, mPTC can reoccur in the neck and in cervical lymph nodes.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Douglas S. Ross of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and on behalf of the National Thyroid Cancer Treatment Cooperative Study Group analyzed a prospective registry of 611 mPTC patients who were felt to be free of cancer after their initial surgery and, in some cases, radioiodine treatment. Researchers found that patients with multifocal mPTC who received less than a near total thyroidectomy had more recurrences of cancer than patients with unifocal mPTC who underwent the same surgical treatment. Researchers also found that cancer recurrence was more common in patients with multifocal mPTC who did not receive radioiodine following surgery compared with unifocal mPTC who also did not receive adjuvant radioiodine. Researchers also noted a trend towards less recurrences in multifocal mPTC patients who had a total or near total thyroidectomy than patients with less extensive surgery.

"These findings support the use of total or near total thyroidectomy in treating patients with multifocal micropapillary cancer to reduce the risk of recurrence, and indicate the feasibility of a prospective randomized trial to determine whether radioiodine might further reduce the risk of recurrence," said Dr. Ross, principle investigator of the study.

About the American Thyroid Association (ATA)The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the lead organization in promoting thyroid health and understanding thyroid biology. The ATA values scientific inquiry, clinical excellence, public service, education, collaboration, and collegiality.

A non-profit medical society founded in 1923, the ATA fulfills its mission through supporting excellence and innovation in research, clinical care, education, and public health. ATA members are physicians and scientists who work to enhance the understanding of thyroid physiology and pathophysiology, improve the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid diseases, and promote the education of physicians, patients, and the public about thyroid disorders.

Thyroid diseases are among the most common disorders of the endocrine system, affecting almost 13 million Americans alone. The ATA has extensive online information for patients on thyroid disease (in English and Spanish) serving the clinician as a resource for patients and the public who look for reliable information on the internet.

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Distribution of information regarding research presented at ATA meetings is thought to be of interest to the public, however, this does not imply official endorsement by the ATA.

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79th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association