Should Total Thyroidectomy Be Recommended for Patients with Familial Non-medullary Thyroid Cancer?



It is unknown whether familial non-medullary thyroid cancer (FNMTC) has more aggressive clinical features and a worse prognosis than sporadic non-medullary thyroid cancer (SNMTC).


We retrospectively reviewed 2894 patients with differentiated thyroid cancer who underwent primary thyroidectomy, identified 391 FNMTC cases, and compared the prevalence, surgical extension, and clinicopathologic features of FNMTC and SNMTC.


A family history of thyroid cancer was noted in 391 patients (13.5%), with 85% having two affected relatives and 15% with ≥3 affected relatives. A sibling was affected in 52.9% of cases, and in 47.1%, both parent and child were affected. There were no significant between-group differences in sex, age, tumor size, extrathyroidal extension, or central lymph node metastases. Significantly more patients with FNMTC exhibited multifocal disease (p = 0.020) or benign nodules (p = 0.015). Lateral neck lymph node metastases were noted in 6.6% (SNMTC) and 9.7% (FNMTC, p = 0.021) of patients. Multifocality and combined benign masses were more frequently observed in patients with FNMTC in multivariate analysis. In the FNMTC group, seven experienced disease recurrence, with no mortality noted during follow-up.


FNMTC is not more aggressive than SNMTC; however, FNMTC should be treated with total thyroidectomy because of the increased disease multifocality and the presence of benign nodules. Lateral neck lymph node metastases were more likely in patients with FNMTC, although we could not estimate prognosis. All patients with thyroid cancer should be checked for family disease history and undergo preoperative ultrasonography to determine the extent of node dissection and the need for total thyroidectomy.

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This work was funded by Ulsan University Hospital (Biomedical Research Center Promotion Fund 11-03).

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Correspondence to Yon Seon Kim.

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Kim, Y.S., Seo, M., Park, S.H. et al. Should Total Thyroidectomy Be Recommended for Patients with Familial Non-medullary Thyroid Cancer?. World J Surg (2020).

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