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Ann Surg Oncol. 2013 Apr;20(4):1329-35. doi: 10.1245/s10434-012-2711-x. Epub 2012 Oct 28.

Evaluating the prognostic factors associated with cancer-specific survival of differentiated thyroid carcinoma presenting with distant metastasis.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.



Because patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) presenting with distant metastasis (DM) have a particularly poor prognosis, examining the prognostic factors in this group is essential. We aimed to evaluate the prognostic factors affecting cancer-specific survival (CSS) in DTC patients presenting with DM.


Of the 1227 DTC patients, 51 (4.2 %) presented with DM at diagnosis. All patients underwent a total thyroidectomy, followed by radioiodine (RAI) ablation and postablation whole body scan (WBS). Patients were considered to have an osseous metastasis if one of the metastatic sites involved a bone, while RAI avidity was determined by any visual uptake in a known metastatic site on the first WBS. Factors predictive of CSS were determined by univariate and multivariate analyses by the Cox proportional hazard model.


In univariate analysis, older age (relative risk [RR] 1.050, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.010-1.091, P = 0.014), DM discovered before WBS (RR 3.401, 95 % CI 1.127-10.309, P = 0.030), follicular thyroid carcinoma (RR 3.095, 95 % CI 1.168-8.205, P = 0.025), osseous metastasis (RR 4.695, 95 % CI 1.379-15.873, P = 0.013), non-RAI avidity (RR 3.355, 95 % CI 1.280-8.772, P = 0.014), and external beam radiotherapy to DM (RR 3.241, 95 % CI 1.093-9.614, P = 0.034) were significant poor prognostic factors for CSS. In the multivariate analysis, after adjusting for other factors, osseous metastasis (RR 6.849, 95 % CI 1.495-31.250, P = 0.013) and non-RAI avidity (RR 7.752, 95 % CI 2.198-27.027, P = 0.001) were the two independent poor prognostic factors for CSS. Older age almost reached statistically significance (RR 1.055, 95 % CI 0.996-1.117, P = 0.068).


DTC patients presenting with DM accounted for 4.2 % of all patients. Because osseous metastasis and RAI avidity were independent prognostic factors, future therapy should be directed at improving the treatment efficacy of osseous and/or non-RAI-avid metastases.

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