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Arch Surg. 1980 Apr;115(4):394-8.

Occult papillary carcinoma of the thyroid.


Retrospective review was undertaken of 137 patients with occult papillary carcinoma of the thyroid (lesions less than or equal to 1.5 cm in diameter) who were operated on at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, between 1926 and 1955. Mean follow-up period was 25.3 years. Operations were conservative. No patient underwent bilateral total lobectomy. For 55 patients with lymph node involvement, lymphadenectomy generally involved selective node excision or modified neck dissection. Subsequent surgery was required in 12 patients; modified radical neck dissection was necessary in only four. No operative deaths occurred. Long-term follow-up showed that all patients were alive and without disease or were dead without proof of thyroid-related disease. Thus, occult papillary thyroid carcinoma with or without nodal metastasis is a nonlethal and curable disease when treated by conservative surgical means. Radical surgical or medical extirpation of all thyroid tissue is unnecessary in the treatment of this disease.

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