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Endocr Pathol. 2003 Fall;14(3):183-91.

Controversies in papillary microcarcinoma of the thyroid.

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Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2M9.


Papillary thyroid carcinomas that are smaller than 1 cm are classified as papillary microcarcinomas (PMC). These lesions are frequently detected as incidental findings on autopsy or in surgical specimens. They are often multifocal. The relationship between PMC and clinical papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is not clear. In patients with clinical thyroid cancer, PMC may represent intrathyroidal metastases; they may be the earliest form of future large lesions. These uncertainties raise questions about appropriate clinical management of patients with these lesions. Review of the literature substantiates the argument that clinically evident PTC may be distinctly different from solitary or multifocal PMC in terms of etiology and biologic behavior, supporting a conservative approach to management.

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