Background: Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) metastasizes to central compartment lymph nodes (CCLN) in majority of patients. Such metastases are associated with high risk of locoregional recurrence and distant metastasis. Only one study has investigated the relation between the number of metastatic CCLN and prognosis (Soon Lee et al. 2010 WJS). This study evaluated the clinical implication of the number of metastatic CCLN in PTC.
Methods: Between Jan 2005Dec 2010 41 patients with PTC underwent total thyroidectomy and CCLN dissection with or without lateral neck dissection. Patients were divided into three groups according to the number of positive CCLN: group A=0; group B=12; and group C=3 or more.
Results: Of the 41 patients enrolled in this study, 11 were in group A, 12 in group B, and 18 in group C. The total number of positive CCLNs did not correlate with age at diagnosis or tumour size (spearmans coefficient or linear regression). Capsular invasion was related to increased rate of CCLN metastasis (P<0.03). Comparing genders, there were no differences in either tumour size (t-test) or number of CCLNs (Mann Whitney U test). When stratifying patients by age (<45 and ≥45) and the presence of capsular, soft-tissue and vascular invasion, there were no differences in the number of CCLNs between groups.
Conclusions: The number of CCLN metastases does not correlate with any of the prognostic factors nor with the status of lateral neck lymph nodes. This suggests that the number of CLN has no prognostic implication in papillary thyroid cancer.
Declaration of interest: There is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.
Funding: No specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector.