Thyroid| Volume 171, ISSUE 1, P177-181, January 2022

Medullary thyroid cancer: What is the optimal management of the lateral neck in a node negative patient at index operation?



      Medullary thyroid cancer is a neuroendocrine malignancy that can occur sporadically or as the result of genomic rearranged during transfection mutations. Medullary thyroid cancer has a higher rate of metastasis than well-differentiated thyroid cancer. Lateral neck dissection is often performed, and its prophylactic use is controversial.


      Single-center, retrospective review (2000–2017) of patients undergoing primary surgical treatment for medullary thyroid cancer who had negative lateral neck imaging preoperatively. Demographics, genetic associations, clinical, and imaging findings were analyzed. Locoregional recurrence, overall recurrence, and overall survival were examined.


      A total of 110 patients were identified, of which 18 underwent prophylactic lateral neck dissection and 92 did not. Age, sex distribution, preoperative calcitonin levels, and follow-up were similar among groups. Overall recurrence was 20% for no prophylactic lateral neck dissection and 39% for prophylactic lateral neck dissection (P = .46). Most recurrences were locoregional recurrence, 7.6% for no prophylactic lateral neck dissection versus 22% for prophylactic lateral neck dissection (P = .08), half of it being to the lateral neck in both groups. A total of 7 patients from the no prophylactic lateral neck dissection group required treatment for recurrences versus 4 patients in prophylactic lateral neck dissection group (P = .57). Overall survival at 5 years was similar, 43% the no prophylactic lateral neck dissection group and 31% for prophylactic lateral neck dissection group (P = .52).


      Lateral neck dissection has no effect in decreasing locoregional or overall recurrences in medullary thyroid cancer and has no effect in overall survival when performed prophylactically at index surgical intervention.
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