Utility of Early Postoperative Unstimulated Thyroglobulin in Influencing Decision Making in Patients with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
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Serum thyroglobulin is used to screen for disease persistence or recurrence of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). We sought to assess the utility of early postoperative unstimulated thyroglobulin levels (uTg) as a decision-making tool to guide the use of radioactive iodine (RAI) in PTC patients.
We performed a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database of patients surgically treated for PTC from 2015 to 2017. We analyzed uTg approximately 6 weeks postoperatively. Patients undergoing total thyroidectomy or completion thyroidectomy were included in the study, and patients were analyzed according to postoperative uTg and receipt of RAI.
A total of 255 patients were analyzed, with 134 patients meeting the inclusion criteria. The median postoperative uTg was 0.3 ng/mL. Overall, 49.3% (66/134) of patients achieved the target uTg of ≤ 0.2 ng/mL at a mean time of 7.9 ± 0.3 weeks postoperatively; 60% (40/66) of patients who achieved uTg ≤ 0.2 ng/mL postoperatively did not receive RAI. A uTg ≤ 0.2 ng/mL was maintained at 6 months in 98.1% of patients, including 100% of patients who received RAI and 96.7% of patients who did not receive RAI (p = 0.8). Of those who did not receive RAI, none demonstrated structural disease recurrence on 6-month ultrasound. Patients with early postoperative uTg > 0.2–2.0 ng/mL showed benefit from RAI, while patients with uTg > 2.0 ng/mL did not achieve the targeted uTg level regardless of receipt of RAI.
Postoperative uTg may be used to guide the use of RAI. Achieving near-undetectable uTg within 6 weeks postoperatively could aid providers in assessing disease burden and minimize RAI use for patients with a low-risk of disease recurrence. Continued follow-up is necessary to accurately determine long-term outcomes.
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