Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 8783–8789 | Cite as

Bilaterality weighs more than unilateral multifocality in predicting prognosis in papillary thyroid cancer

  • Ning Qu
  • Ling Zhang
  • Wei-li Wu
  • Qing-hai Ji
  • Zhong-wu Lu
  • Yong-xue Zhu
  • Dao-zhe Lin
Original Article


Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) often presents as multifocal tumor;, however, whether multifocality is associated with poor prognosis remains controversial. The aims of this retrospective study were to identify the characteristics of PTC with multifocal tumors and evaluate the association between the location and prognosis. We reviewed the medical records of 496 patients who underwent total thyroidectomy for PTC. Patients were classified as three groups: N1 (solitary tumor), N2 (2 or more foci within unilateral lobe of thyroid), and N3 (bilateral tumors, at least one tumor focus for each lobe of thyroid). We analyzed the differences of clinicopathologic features and clinical outcomes among the three groups. Cox regression model was used to assess the relation between the different locations of multifocal tumors and prognosis. Although the differences of clinicopathologic features such as the size of tumor, extrathyroidal extension, and cervical lymph node metastasis were not significant among the three groups, the bilateral-multifocality was proved to be an independent risk factor for neck recurrence (hazard ratio (HR) = 4.052, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 2.070–7.933), distant metastasis (HR = 3.860, 95 % CI 1.507–9.884), and cancer death (HR = 7.252, 95 % 2.189–24.025). In addition, extrathyroidal extension (HR = 2.291, 95 % CI 1.185–4.427) and older age >45 years (HR = 6.721, 95 % CI 2.300–19.637) were also significant predictors for neck recurrence and cancer death, respectively. Therefore, bilateral-multifocality as an indicator for more extensive tumor location could be used to assess the risk of recurrence and mortality in PTC. Given the poor prognosis associated with bilateral-multifocality and other risk factors, aggressive therapy and intensive follow-up were recommended for PTC patients with them.


Papillary thyroid cancer Multifocality Bilaterality Prognosis 


Source(s) of funding

This research is supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81272934) and the Natural Science Foundation of Shanghai (12ZR1406800).

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ning Qu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ling Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei-li Wu
    • 3
  • Qing-hai Ji
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhong-wu Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yong-xue Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dao-zhe Lin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Head and Neck SurgeryFudan University Shanghai Cancer CenterShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical CollegeFudan UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Surgical Oncology, Rui’an People’s HospitalThird Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical UniversityWenzhouChina

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