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Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma in Pregnancy: A Variant of the Disease?



There are conflicting reports in the literature regarding the prognostic influence of pregnancy on patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), and there is no literature on specific microRNA (miRNA) profiles of PTC in the context of pregnancy. We aim to examine clinically if pregnancy is an adverse factor in PTC, and if pregnancy-associated PTC are biologically different from those in nonpregnant women in terms of their miRNA profiles.


Women diagnosed with PTC during or soon after pregnancy were recruited into the pregnancy group. Age-matched nonpregnant females were recruited into the nonpregnancy group. MiRNA microarray was performed on PTC tissue of pregnant patients (10), nonpregnant patients (10), and normal thyroids (5). There were 6 differentially expressed miRNAs from the microarray comparisons validated with RT-PCR.


There were 24 patients in the clinical pregnancy group and 30 in the nonpregnancy group. Tumors from the pregnancy group were significantly larger and showed more regional lymph node metastases. The microarray data showed a total of 27 miRNAs that were potential differentiators of PTC tissue samples from pregnant and nonpregnant patients. Of the 6 selected for validation, no significant difference in expression was found.


Our clinical data suggests that PTC during pregnancy may be more locoregionally aggressive. However, no difference in survival or recurrence is demonstrated. The miRNA profiles of the pregnancy-associated PTC have not been shown to be different to the nonpregnancy counterparts. This likely suggests that the differences seen clinically are related to patient factors rather than the disease itself.

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James Lee was funded by the University of Sydney Medical School Surgery Scholarship during the preparation of this manuscript, as part of a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

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Correspondence to James C. Lee MBBS, FRACS.

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Lee, J.C., Zhao, J.T., Clifton-Bligh, R.J. et al. Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma in Pregnancy: A Variant of the Disease?. Ann Surg Oncol 19, 4210–4216 (2012).

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  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Papillary Thyroid Cancer
  • Papillary Thyroid Cancer
  • Multinodular Goiter
  • Pregnancy Group