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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jan;98(1):172-80. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-2458. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

Life expectancy is reduced in differentiated thyroid cancer patients ≥ 45 years old with extensive local tumor invasion, lateral lymph node, or distant metastases at diagnosis and normal in all other DTC patients.

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University of Würzburg, Department of Nuclear Medicine, 97080 Würzburg, Germany.



Differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) generally has a good prognosis. As yet, however, it is unclear whether life expectancy is reduced in these patients and, if so, to what extent. The aim of this study was to determine how the all-cause mortality rate in DTC patients compares to that of the general population.


A prospective database study was conducted.


The study included 2011 DTC patients treated in our hospital from 1980-2011. All patients received total thyroidectomy with subsequent (131)I ablation, except for those with an isolated papillary microcarcinoma. Survival data for the general German population were obtained from the German Federal Statistics Agency and matched to our DTC population for age and sex.


Patients who were at least 45 yr old at diagnosis and had extensive perithyroidal invasion (UICC/AJCC TNM system, 7th edition, stages IVa and IVb), lateral cervical lymph node metastases (TNM stage IVa), or distant metastases (TNM stage IVc) showed a clearly reduced life expectancy [relative cumulative survival rate (observed:expected) for stage IVc after 20 yr, 0.295; 95% confidence interval, 0.033-0.556]. In patients over 60 yr of age at diagnosis, the loss of life expectancy was (much) greater than for those aged 45-59 yr in all groups. Life expectancy was not reduced in patients with TNM stages I, II, or III (86% of patients).


Life expectancy is not significantly reduced in 86% of DTC patients; only patients at least 45 yr old with extensive local invasion, lateral lymph node metastases, and/or distant metastases (TNM stages IVa, IVb, and IVc) at diagnosis showed a clearly lower life expectancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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