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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Apr;88(4):1433-41.

A consensus report of the role of serum thyroglobulin as a monitoring method for low-risk patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Shands Hospital, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


Recent studies have provided new information regarding the optimal surveillance protocols for low-risk patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). This article summarizes the main issues brought out in a consensus conference of thyroid cancer specialists who analyzed and discussed this new data. There is growing recognition of the value of serum thyroglobulin (Tg) as part of routine surveillance. An undetectable serum Tg measured during thyroid hormone suppression of TSH (THST) is often misleading. Eight studies show that 21% of 784 patients who had no clinical evidence of tumor with baseline serum Tg levels usually below 1 micro g/liter during THST had, in response to recombinant human TSH (rhTSH), a rise in serum Tg to more than 2 micro g/liter. When this happened, 36% of the patients were found to have metastases (36% at distant sites) that were identified in 91% by an rhTSH-stimulated Tg above 2 micro g/liter. Diagnostic whole body scanning, after either rhTSH or thyroid hormone withdrawal, identified only 19% of the cases of metastases. Ten studies comprising 1599 patients demonstrate that a TSH-stimulated Tg test using a Tg cutoff of 2 micro g/liter (either after thyroid hormone withdrawal or 72 h after rhTSH) is sufficiently sensitive to be used as the principal test in the follow-up management of low-risk patients with DTC and that the routine use of diagnostic whole body scanning in follow-up should be discouraged. On the basis of the foregoing, we propose a surveillance guideline using TSH-stimulated Tg levels for patients who have undergone total or near-total thyroidectomy and (131)I ablation for DTC and have no clinical evidence of residual tumor with a serum Tg below 1 micro g/liter during THST.

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