The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognosis in elderly patients affected by papillary thyroid carcinoma. A retrospective review was conducted on 1,407 patients operated on for papillary thyroid carcinoma at our Department from 1990 to 2007. We analyzed the frequency, the stage, the treatment, the recurrence and the survival in a group of patients aged 75 years or more when compared with a group of patients younger. Among 1,407 patients affected by papillary thyroid carcinoma, 117 (8.3%) were older than 75 years while 1,290 (91.7%) patients were younger. There was no statistical difference between the two groups in frequency of papillary histotype and type of surgery. In the older group, the incidence of anaplastic cancer was higher, p < 0.001. The rate of IV stage was 3.8% in younger versus 15.4% in older patients, p < 0.001. The incidence of recurrence was 6.1% versus 17.9%, p < 0.001, in young and elderly patients, respectively. At a mean follow-up of 8.7 years (range 2–19 years) the overall 10 and 15-year survival in younger patients was 91.3 and 88.7%, while in the older group was 71.8 and 63.9%, respectively. The Kaplan–Meier curve showed a statistically significant difference of survival rate in the two groups (p < 0.0001). Although papillary thyroid cancer is widely considered a lymph-tropic tumor, it seems to have a stronger attitude to distant metastases in elderly patients with a worse prognosis due to a more advanced stage.
Papillary thyroid cancer Prognostic factors Elderly patients