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Patterns of Structural Recurrence in Papillary Thyroid Cancer



Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is uncommonly associated with tumor-related mortality, although local recurrence can be a frequent and difficult problem. This study was conducted to clarify the pattern of structural locoregional recurrence in PTC.

Material and method

A retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing surgical intervention for PTC was undertaken. Data were collected from a comprehensive thyroid cancer database maintained within a single tertiary referral center. The primary outcome measure was cancer recurrence requiring surgical intervention. Secondary outcome measures were site of recurrence, time to recurrence, and risk factors for recurrence.


In the period 1980–2013, 1,183 patients with PTC were included in the study. The overall rate of structural recurrence requiring reoperative surgery was 7.9 %. The median time to reoperation was 31 months. Younger age, male gender, large primary tumor diameter, and number of positive lymph nodes at initial presentation were all significantly associated with disease recurrence. The lateral compartments (levels I, II, III, IV, V) were involved almost twice as frequently as the central compartment (level VI) (67 vs 32 %, P < 0.01). The distribution of recurrences was level I (1 %), level II (12 %), level III (18 %), level IV (18 %), level V (17 %), level VI (32 %), level VII (2 %).


In a center with a liberal approach to central compartment lymph node dissection for PTC, the lateral neck compartment is the most common site of structural recurrence requiring reoperative surgery.

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Author information

Correspondence to Mark S. Sywak.

Additional information

This study has been accepted for oral presentation at the International Surgical Week ISW 2013, Helsinki, Finland.

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Kruijff, S., Petersen, J.F., Chen, P. et al. Patterns of Structural Recurrence in Papillary Thyroid Cancer. World J Surg 38, 653–659 (2014).

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  • Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
  • Papillary Thyroid Cancer
  • Central Compartment
  • Lateral Compartment
  • Extrathyroidal Extension