Can patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma and low postoperative thyroglobulin in the presence of clinically apparent lymph node metastases (cN1) be spared from radioiodine?



The study evaluated the recurrence rate in patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) and clinically apparent lymph node metastases (LNM) (cN1) who had low thyroglobulin (Tg) after total thyroidectomy and who were not submitted to adjuvant therapy with 131I.


This was a prospective study. It included 82 cN1 patients (≤3 LNM ≤1.5 cm without macroscopic extracapsular extension) with tumors ≤4 cm without macroscopic extrathyroid invasion (T1–2) and who after thyroidectomy had unstimulated Tg (u-Tg) < 0.3 ng/ml, negative antithyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb), and neck ultrasonography (US) showing no anomalies. The patients were not submitted to therapy with 131I.


The time of follow-up ranged from 24 to 156 months (median 84 months). Seventy-nine patients (96.3%) continued to have u-Tg < 0.3 ng/ml and negative US. Three patients (3.6%) exhibited an increase in Tg and structural recurrence was detected in two. After treatment, these patients achieved u-Tg < 1 ng/ml and the imaging methods revealed no apparent tumor.


The results suggest that even cN1 patients, given the absence of extensive LNM or other adverse findings, who have low Tg and neck US showing no anomalies after thyroidectomy do not require radioiodine.

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This work was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

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Correspondence to Pedro Weslley Rosario.

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Rosario, P.W., Mourão, G.F. & Calsolari, M.R. Can patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma and low postoperative thyroglobulin in the presence of clinically apparent lymph node metastases (cN1) be spared from radioiodine?. Endocrine 70, 552–557 (2020).

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  • Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
  • Lymph Node Metastases
  • Postoperative Nonstimulated Thyroglobulin
  • Radioiodine