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Thyroid. 2013 Sep;23(9):1159-64. doi: 10.1089/thy.2012.0595. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Papillary thyroid microcarcinoma in Denmark 1996-2008: a national study of epidemiology and clinical significance.

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1 Department of ENT Head and Neck Surgery, #Odense University Hospital, Denmark .



With an observed general rise in papillary thyroid carcinoma incidence, papillary microcarcinoma (PMC) is accordingly found more frequently and often incidentally by histological examination of surgical specimens from presumed benign thyroid disease. Only a few studies have specifically addressed the prognosis of incidentally found PMC, and they have been limited to retrospective single-center studies.


This was a national, unselected, prospective cohort study of 406 papillary thyroid microcarcinoma patients diagnosed in Denmark from 1996 to 2008.


The aim of this study was to evaluate incidence, outcome, and extent of necessary treatment, with special attention given to incidentally detected PMC.


Age-standardized ratios were found to increase from 0.35 per 100,000 per year in 1996 to 0.74 per 100,000 per year in 2008. A total of 240 out of 406 cases were found incidentally, and a significant rise in incidence was only found for the incidental cases. Median follow-up was 7.6 years for the incidental cases, and in this time span, five cases of recurrence and no deaths from thyroid cancer occurred. The five-year recurrence-free survival was 98.1%, and only occurrence of lymph-node metastasis was found to affect the recurrence rate. A total of 160 incidental cases were initially treated with lobectomy, and the incidence of recurrence was not significantly different in the cases receiving completion thyroidectomy.


The rising incidence of PMC in Denmark is explained by incidental cases. When the carcinoma is not the index tumor for surgery, this study implies that completion thyroidectomy does not improve prognosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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