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Eur J Cancer. 1993;29A(13):1817-20.

"Occult" papillary carcinoma of the thyroid: a questionable entity.

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Division of Surgical Oncology C, National Cancer Institute, Milan, Italy.


A series of 72 cases of "occult" thyroid papillary cancer, i.e. tumours of less than 1.5 cm in diameter, was analysed. The patients--26 males and 46 females--were treated surgically, 25 by lobectomy and isthmusectomy and 47 by total thyroidectomy. In 51 cases nodal neck dissection was performed, bilateral in 2 cases. 9 thyroidectomised patients received radiometabolic therapy. Hormone therapy (T4) was continuously administered to 57 patients. The median duration of follow-up was 99 months (60-189). All the patients were alive (except one who died from other causes) and free of disease at last control. No relapses in the thyroid were observed in the conservatively treated patients. 2 patients of the 47 radically operated upon subsequently presented nodal metastasis and underwent neck dissection. The so-called "occult" thyroid papillary cancer does not differ from other papillary cancers with respect to morphological, clinical and prognostic factors--it differs only in size. Considering occult papillary tumours as an entity is questioned in this paper.

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