Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 2266–2273 | Cite as

Papillary Microcarcinoma of the Thyroid: Clinical Characteristics and BRAFV600E Mutational Status of 977 Cases

  • Xiangqian Zheng
  • Songfeng Wei
  • Ying Han
  • Yancong Li
  • Yang Yu
  • Xinwei Yun
  • Xiubao Ren
  • Ming Gao
Endocrine Tumors



Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is one of the most common endocrine malignancies. It is estimated that papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) accounts for up to 30 % of all PTCs. The clinical significance of PTMC is still unclear, although it may be related to recurrence, distant metastasis, and mortality. The purpose of this study was to analyze the clinical characteristics and BRAFV600E mutational status of PTMCs in a Chinese population and to determine risk factors for poor prognosis.


We performed a retrospective review of 977 PTMC cases that underwent surgical resection from January 2001 to January 2010 at Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital.


The mean size of 977 PTMCs was 5.2 (range, 2–10) mm. Multifocal tumors were seen in 323 patients. The majority of patients (692) had a T1 lesion, whereas 279 had T3 and 6 had T4a; 40.1 % patients had BRAFV600E mutation. The frequencies of extrathyroidal extension and lymph node metastasis were 29.2 and 23.4 %, respectively. Distant metastasis was present in 15 patients. Half of the patients (50.8 %) received a total thyroidectomy and others had a lobectomy.


The present study suggests that highly aggressive PTMCs may arise in a subset of patients with BRAFV600E mutation and tumors greater than 5 mm. Extrathyroidal invasion, lymph node metastases, and the type of surgical procedures were significantly associated with tumor recurrence. Although multivariate analysis showed that tumor recurrence was not associated with BRAFV600E mutation, it has not been shown that treating these patients more aggressively changes outcomes.


Thyroid Cancer Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Papillary Thyroid Papillary Thyroid Cancer Cervical Lymph Node Metastasis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Prof. Baocun Sun in Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital for providing materials, the members of Dr. Gao’s department for their assistance in the discussion, and Dr. Peirong Yu, Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, for scientific and language editing.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest for this study.


This research did not receive any specific grant from any funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiangqian Zheng
    • 1
  • Songfeng Wei
    • 1
  • Ying Han
    • 2
  • Yancong Li
    • 3
  • Yang Yu
    • 1
  • Xinwei Yun
    • 1
  • Xiubao Ren
    • 2
  • Ming Gao
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Thyroid and Neck Tumor, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and HospitalOncology Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and TherapyTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Biotherapy, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and HospitalOncology Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and TherapyTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Respiratory DepartmentXiaolan Hospital Affiliated to Southern Medical UniversityGuangdongPeople’s Republic of China

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