Certain thyroid cancers have higher incidence of nodal metastases

A recent study published in Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery suggests that malignant central nodal metastases - cancer that spreads to lymph nodes - are more likely to occur in patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma than those with follicular variant papillary thyroid carcinoma.

According to researchers from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, the risk for metastases is associated with the size and location of the primary tumor. During the study, researchers set out to determine the risk for nodal metastases in 115 patients undergoing central neck dissection for papillary thyroid carcinoma or its follicular variant between 2000 and 2007.

Primary outcome measures were the number of lymph nodes detected, their location and lymph node positivity for malignant disease based on the patients' age, gender, primary tumor size, histologic type and focality.

Results showed that 87 percent of patients had papillary thyroid carcinoma and 13 percent had the follicular variant of the disease. Of the patients with the first type, 69 percent had malignant lymph nodes in the bilateral central compartment of their neck, while 75 percent had malignant lymph nodes in the ipsilateral central neck compartment.

Researchers observed no malignant lymph nodes in patients with the follicular variant of this type of cancer carcinoma.