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Revised American Thyroid Association ManagementGuidelines for Patients with Thyroid Nodules

and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) Guidelines Taskforceon Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer

David S. Cooper, M.D.1 (Chair)*, Gerard M. Doherty, M.D.,2 Bryan R. Haugen, M.D.,3

Richard T. Kloos, M.D.,4 Stephanie L. Lee, M.D., Ph.D.,5 Susan J. Mandel, M.D., M.P.H.,6

Ernest L. Mazzaferri, M.D.,7 Bryan McIver, M.D., Ph.D.,8 Furio Pacini, M.D.,9 Martin Schlumberger, M.D.,10

Steven I. Sherman, M.D.,11 David L. Steward, M.D.,12 and R. Michael Tuttle, M.D.13

Background: Thyroid nodules are a common clinical problem, and differentiated thyroid cancer is becomingincreasingly prevalent. Since the publication of the American Thyroid Association’s guidelines for the man-agement of these disorders was published in 2006, a large amount of new information has become available,prompting a revision of the guidelines.Methods: Relevant articles through December 2008 were reviewed by the task force and categorized by topic andlevel of evidence according to a modified schema used by the United States Preventative Services Task Force.Results: The revised guidelines for the management of thyroid nodules include recommendations regardinginitial evaluation, clinical and ultrasound criteria for fine-needle aspiration biopsy, interpretation of fine-needleaspiration biopsy results, and management of benign thyroid nodules. Recommendations regarding the initialmanagement of thyroid cancer include those relating to optimal surgical management, radioiodine remnantablation, and suppression therapy using levothyroxine. Recommendations related to long-term management ofdifferentiated thyroid cancer include those related to surveillance for recurrent disease using ultrasound andserum thyroglobulin as well as those related to management of recurrent and metastatic disease.Conclusions: We created evidence-based recommendations in response to our appointment as an independenttask force by the American Thyroid Association to assist in the clinical management of patients with thyroidnodules and differentiated thyroid cancer. They represent, in our opinion, contemporary optimal care for pa-tients with these disorders.

Thyroid nodules are a common clinical problem. Epi-demiologic studies have shown the prevalence of palpa-

ble thyroid nodules to be approximately 5% in women and 1%in men living in iodine-sufficient parts of the world (1,2). Incontrast, high-resolution ultrasound (US) can detect thyroid

nodules in 19–67% of randomly selected individuals withhigher frequencies in women and the elderly (3). The clinicalimportance of thyroid nodules rests with the need to excludethyroid cancer which occurs in 5–15% depending on age, sex,radiation exposure history, family history, and other factors

*Authors are listed in alphabetical order and were appointed by ATA to independently formulate the content of this manuscript. None ofthe scientific or medical content of the manuscript was dictated by the ATA.

1The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.2University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.3University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado.4The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.5Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.6University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.7University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida.8The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.9The University of Siena, Siena, Italy.

10Institute Gustave Roussy, Paris, France.11University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.12University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.13Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.

THYROIDVolume 19, Number 11, 2009ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.DOI: 10.1089=thy.2009.0110






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(4,5). Differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), which includespapillary and follicular cancer, comprises the vast majority(90%) of all thyroid cancers (6). In the United States, approx-imately 37,200 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosedin 2009 (7). The yearly incidence has increased from 3.6 per100,000 in 1973 to 8.7 per 100,000 in 2002, a 2.4-fold increase( p< 0.001 for trend) and this trend appears to be continuing(8). Almost the entire change has been attributed to an in-crease in the incidence of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC),which increased 2.9-fold between 1988 and 2002. Moreover,49% of the rising incidence consisted of cancers measuring1 cm or smaller and 87% consisted of cancers measuring 2 cmor smaller (8). This tumor shift may be due to the increasinguse of neck ultrasonography and early diagnosis and treat-ment (9), trends that are changing the initial treatment andfollow-up for many patients with thyroid cancer.

In 1996, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) pub-lished treatment guidelines for patients with thyroid nodulesand DTC (10). Over the last decade, there have been manyadvances in the diagnosis and therapy of both thyroid nodulesand DTC. Controversy exists in many areas, including themost cost-effective approach in the diagnostic evaluation of athyroid nodule, the extent of surgery for small thyroid cancers,the use of radioactive iodine to ablate remnant tissue followingthyroidectomy, the appropriate use of thyroxine suppressiontherapy, and the role of human recombinant thyrotropin(rhTSH). In recognition of the changes that have taken place inthe overall management of these clinically important prob-lems, the ATA appointed a task force to re-examine the currentstrategies that are used to diagnose and treat thyroid nodulesand DTC, and to develop clinical guidelines using principles ofevidence-based medicine. Members of the taskforce includedexperts in thyroid nodule and thyroid cancer managementwith representation from the fields of endocrinology, surgery,and nuclear medicine. The medical opinions expressed hereare those of the authors; none were dictated by the ATA. Thefinal document was approved by the ATA Board of Directorsand endorsed (in alphabetical order) by the American Asso-ciation of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), American Collegeof Endocrinology, British Association of Head and NeckOncologists (BAHNO), The Endocrine Society, European As-sociation for Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Surgery (EACMFS), Eur-opean Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM), EuropeanSociety of Endocrine Surgeons (ESES), European Society forPaediatric Endocrinology (ESPE), International Association ofEndocrine Surgeons (IAES), and Latin American Thyroid So-ciety (LATS).

Other groups have previously developed guidelines, in-cluding the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologistsand the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (11), theBritish Thyroid Association and The Royal College of Physi-cians (12), and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network(13) that have provided somewhat conflicting recommenda-tions due to the lack of high quality evidence from random-ized controlled trials. The European Thyroid Association haspublished consensus guidelines for the management of DTC(14). The European Association of Nuclear Medicine has alsorecently published consensus guidelines for radioiodine (RAI)therapy of DTC (15).

The ATA guidelines taskforce used a strategy similar to thatemployed by the National Institutes of Health for its Consen-sus Development Conferences (http:==consensus.nih.gov=

aboutcdp.htm), and developed a series of clinically relevantquestions pertaining to thyroid nodule and thyroid cancer di-agnosis and treatment. These questions were as follows:

—Questions regarding thyroid nodules� What is the appropriate evaluation of clinically or inci-

dentally discovered thyroid nodule(s)?* What laboratory tests and imaging modalities are in-

dicated?* What is the role of fine-needle aspiration (FNA)?

� What is the best method of long-term follow up of pa-tients with thyroid nodules?

� What is the role of medical therapy of patients withbenign thyroid nodules?

� How should thyroid nodules in children and pregnantwomen be managed?

—Questions regarding the initial management of DTC� What is the role of preoperative staging with diagnostic

imaging and laboratory tests?� What is the appropriate operation for indeterminate

thyroid nodules and DTC?� What is the role of postoperative staging systems and

which should be used?� What is the role of postoperative RAI remnant ablation?� What is the role of thyrotropin (TSH) suppression

therapy?� Is there a role for adjunctive external beam irradiation or


—Questions regarding the long term management of DTC� What are the appropriate features of long-term man-

agement?� What is the role of serum thyroglobulin (Tg) assays?� What is the role of US and other imaging techniques

during follow-up?� What is the role of TSH suppression in long-term follow-

up?� What is the most appropriate management of patients

with metastatic disease?� How should Tg-positive, scan-negative patients be

managed?� What is the role of external radiation therapy?� What is the role of chemotherapy?

— What are directions for future research?

The initial ATA guidelines were published in 2006 (16).Because of the rapid growth of the literature on this topic,plans for revising the guidelines within 24–36 months ofpublication were made at the inception of the project. Re-levant articles on thyroid cancer were identified using thesame search criteria employed for the original guidelines (16).Individual task force members submitted suggestions forclarification of prior recommendations, as well as new infor-mation derived from studies published since 2004. Relevantliterature continued to be reviewed through December 2008.To begin the revision process, a half-day meeting was heldon June 2, 2007. The Task Force was broadened to includeEuropean experts and a head and neck surgeon. Three sub-sequent half-day meetings were held on October 5, 2007; July13, 2008; and October 5, 2008, to review these suggestions andfor additional comments to be considered. The meeting in July2008 also included a meeting with six additional surgeons in


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Table 1. Organization of Management Guideline Recommendations, Tables, and Figures

for Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer

Page Location keya Sections and subsections Itemb


1171 [A2] Evaluation of Newly Discovered Thyroid Nodules F1

1171 [A3] Laboratory tests

1171 [A4] Serum TSH R1–R2

1171 [A5] Serum thyroglobulin (Tg) R3

1171 [A6] Serum calcitonin R4

1173 [A7] Role of fine-needle aspiration (FNA)

1173 [A8] Ultrasound (US) with FNA R5, T3

1174 [A9] Cytopathological interpretation of FNA samples

1174 [A10] Nondiagnostic cytology R6

1174 [A11] Cytology suggesting papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) R7

1174 [A12] Indeterminate cytology R8–R10

1175 [A13] Benign cytology R11

1175 [A14] Multinodular goiter (MNG)=multiple thyroid nodules R12–R13

1175 [A15] Long-Term Follow-Up of Thyroid Nodules R14–R15

1176 [A16] Medical therapy for benign thyroid nodules R16–R17

1176 [A17] Thyroid nodules in children R18

1176 [A18] Thyroid nodules in pregnant women R19–R20


1176 [B2] Goals of Initial Therapy of DTC

1177 [B3] Preoperative staging of DTC

1177 [B4] Neck imaging R21–R22

1177 [B5] Serum Tg R23

1177 [B6] Thyroid surgery

1178 [B7] Surgery for nondiagnostic biopsy R24–R25

1178 [B8] Surgery for biopsy diagnostic of malignancy R26

1179 [B9] Lymph node dissection R27–R28, F2

1180 [B10] Completion thyroidectomy R29–R30

1180 [B11] Postoperative staging systems

1180 [B12] Role of postoperative staging

1180 [B13] AJCC=UICC TNM staging R31, T4

1181 [B14] Role of postoperative remnant ablation R32, T5

1183 [B15] Preparation for radioiodine (RAI) remnant ablation R33, F3

1183 [B16] rhTSH preparation R34

1183 [B17] RAI scanning before RAI ablation R35

1185 [B18] Radiation doses for RAI ablation R36–R37

1185 [B19] Low-iodine diet for RAI ablation R38

1185 [B20] Post RAI ablation whole-body RAI scan R39

1185 [B21] Post Initial Therapy of DTC

1185 [B22] Role of TSH suppression therapy

1185 [B23] Degree of initial TSH suppression required R40

1186 [B24] Adjunctive measures

1186 [B25] External beam irradiation R41

1186 [B26] Chemotherapy R42


1186 [C2] Appropriate Features of Long-Term Management

1186 [C3] Appropriate method of follow-up after surgery F4

1186 [C4] Criteria for absence of persistent tumor

1186 [C5] Role of serum Tg assays R43–R45

1189 [C6] Whole body RAI scans, US, and other imagingaIf viewing these guidelines on the Web, or in a File, copy the Location Key to the Find or Search Function to navigate rapidly to the desired section.bR, recommendation; T, table; F, figure.



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Table 1. (Continued)

Page Location keya Sections and subsections Itemb

1189 [C7] Diagnostic whole-body RAI scans R46–R47

1189 [C8] Cervical ultrasound R48a–c

1189 [C9] FDG-PET Scanning R48d

1189 [C10] Role of thyroxine suppression of TSH R49

1190 [C11] Management of Metastatic Disease

1190 [C12] Surgery for locoregional metastases R50

1190 [C13] Surgery for aerodigestive invasion R51

1191 [C14] RAI for local or distant metastatic disease

1191 [C15] Methods for administering RAI R52–R54

1191 [C16] The use of lithium in RAI therapy R55

1191 [C17] Metastasis to various organs

1192 [C18] Pulmonary metastasis R56–R58

1192 [C19] Non–RAI-avid pulmonary disease R59

1193 [C20] Bone metastases R60–R64

1193 [C21] Brain metastases R65–R67

1194 [C22] Management of Complications of RAI Therapy R68–R70

1194 [C23] Secondary malignancies and leukemia from RAI R71

1194 [C24] Other risks to bone marrow from RAI R72

1194 [C25] Effects of RAI on gonads and in nursing women R73–R74

1195 [C26] Management of Tg Positive, RAI Scan–Negative Patients R75–R77, F5

1197 [C27] Patients with a negative post-treatment whole-body scan R78–R79

1197 [C28] External beam radiation for metastatic disease R80


1197 [D2] Novel Therapies and Clinical Trials

1197 [D3] Inhibitors of oncogenic signaling pathways

1197 [D4] Modulators of growth or apoptosis

1197 [D5] Angiogenesis inhibitors

1197 [D6] Immunomodulators

1197 [D7] Gene therapy

1198 [D8] Better Understanding of the Long-Term Risks of RAI

1198 [D9] Clinical Significance of Persistent Low-Level Tg

1198 [D10] The Problem of Tg Antibodies

1198 [D11] Small Cervical Lymph Node Metastases

1198 [D12] Improved Risk Stratification

Table 2. Strength of Panelists’ Recommendations Based on Available Evidence

Rating Definition

A Strongly recommends. The recommendation is based on good evidence that the service or intervention can improveimportant health outcomes. Evidence includes consistent results from well-designed, well-conducted studies inrepresentative populations that directly assess effects on health outcomes.

B Recommends. The recommendation is based on fair evidence that the service or intervention can improveimportant health outcomes. The evidence is sufficient to determine effects on health outcomes, but the strengthof the evidence is limited by the number, quality, or consistency of the individual studies; generalizability toroutine practice; or indirect nature of the evidence on health outcomes.

C Recommends. The recommendation is based on expert opinion.

D Recommends against. The recommendation is based on expert opinion.

E Recommends against. The recommendation is based on fair evidence that the service or intervention does notimprove important health outcomes or that harms outweigh benefits.

F Strongly recommends against. The recommendation is based on good evidence that the service or interventiondoes not improve important health outcomes or that harms outweigh benefits.

I Recommends neither for nor against. The panel concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend foror against providing the service or intervention because evidence is lacking that the service or interventionimproves important health outcomes, the evidence is of poor quality, or the evidence is conflicting. As a result, thebalance of benefits and harms cannot be determined.

Adapted from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (17).

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an effort to produce guidelines related to central neck dis-section that would be as authoritative as possible. The orga-nization of management guideline recommendations isshown in Table 1. It was agreed to continue to categorize thepublished data and strength of recommendations using amodified schema proposed by the U.S. Preventive ServicesTask Force (17) (Table 2).


A thyroid nodule is a discrete lesion within the thyroidgland that is radiologically distinct from the surroundingthyroid parenchyma. Some palpable lesions may not corre-spond to distinct radiologic abnormalities (18). Such abnor-malities do not meet the strict definition for thyroid nodules.Nonpalpable nodules detected on US or other anatomic im-aging studies are termed incidentally discovered nodules or‘‘incidentalomas.’’ Nonpalpable nodules have the same risk ofmalignancy as palpable nodules with the same size (19).Generally, only nodules >1 cm should be evaluated, sincethey have a greater potential to be clinically significant can-cers. Occasionally, there may be nodules <1 cm that requireevaluation because of suspicious US findings, associatedlymphadenopathy, a history of head and neck irradiation, or ahistory of thyroid cancer in one or more first-degree relatives.However, some nodules <1 cm lack these warning signs yeteventually cause morbidity and mortality. These are rare and,given unfavorable cost=benefit considerations, attempts todiagnose and treat all small thyroid cancers in an effort toprevent these rare outcomes would likely cause more harmthan good. Approximately 1–2% of people undergoing 2-deoxy-2[18F]fluoro-d-glucose positron emission tomography(18FDG-PET) imaging for other reasons have thyroid nodulesdiscovered incidentally. Since the risk of malignancy in these18FDG-positive nodules is about 33% and the cancers may bemore aggressive (20), such lesions require prompt evaluation(21–23). When seen, diffuse 18FDG uptake is likely related tounderlying autoimmune thyroiditis.

[A2] What is the appropriate evaluation of clinicallyor incidentally discovered thyroid nodule(s)?(See Fig. 1 for algorithm)

With the discovery of a thyroid nodule, a complete historyand physical examination focusing on the thyroid gland andadjacent cervical lymph nodes should be performed. Pertinenthistorical factors predicting malignancy include a history ofchildhood head and neck irradiation, total body irradiationfor bone marrow transplantation (24), family history of thy-roid carcinoma, or thyroid cancer syndrome (e.g., Cowden’ssyndrome, familial polyposis, Carney complex, multiple en-docrine neoplasia [MEN] 2, Werner syndrome) in a first-degree relative, exposure to ionizing radiation from falloutin childhood or adolescence (25), and rapid growth andhoarseness. Pertinent physical findings suggesting possiblemalignancy include vocal cord paralysis, lateral cervicallymphadenopathy, and fixation of the nodule to surroundingtissues.

[A3] What laboratory tests and imaging modalities areindicated?

[A4] Serum TSH with US and with or without scan. Withthe discovery of a thyroid nodule >1 cm in any diameter or

diffuse or focal thyroidal uptake on 18FDG-PET scan, a se-rum TSH level should be obtained. If the serum TSH issubnormal, a radionuclide thyroid scan should be obtainedto document whether the nodule is hyperfunctioning (i.e.,tracer uptake is greater than the surrounding normal thy-roid), isofunctioning or ‘‘warm’’ (i.e., tracer uptake is equal tothe surrounding thyroid), or nonfunctioning (i.e., has uptakeless than the surrounding thyroid tissue). Since hyperfunc-tioning nodules rarely harbor malignancy, if one is foundthat corresponds to the nodule in question, no cytologicevaluation is necessary. If overt or subclinical hyperthy-roidism is present, additional evaluation is required. Higherserum TSH, even within the upper part of the referencerange, is associated with increased risk of malignancy in athyroid nodule (26).

& RECOMMENDATION 1Measure serum TSH in the initial evaluation of a patientwith a thyroid nodule. If the serum TSH is subnormal, aradionuclide thyroid scan should be performed using eithertechnetium 99 mTc pertechnetate or 123I. Recommendationrating: A

Diagnostic thyroid US should be performed in allpatients with a suspected thyroid nodule, nodular goiter, orradiographic abnormality; e.g., a nodule found incidentallyon computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance im-aging (MRI) or thyroidal uptake on 18FDG-PET scan.Thyroid US can answer the following questions: Is theretruly a nodule that corresponds to the palpable abnormal-ity? How large is the nodule? Does the nodule have benignor suspicious features? Is suspicious cervical lymphade-nopathy present? Is the nodule greater than 50% cystic? Isthe nodule located posteriorly in the thyroid gland? Theselast two features might decrease the accuracy of FNA bi-opsy performed with palpation (27,28). Also, there maybe other thyroid nodules present that require biopsy basedon their size and appearance (18,29,30). As already noted,FNA is recommended especially when the serum TSHis elevated because, compared with normal thyroid glands,the rate of malignancy in nodules in thyroid glandsinvolved with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is as least as high orpossibly higher (31,32).

& RECOMMENDATION 2Thyroid sonography should be performed in all patientswith known or suspected thyroid nodules. Recommenda-tion rating: A

[A5] Serum Tg measurement. Serum Tg levels can be ele-vated in most thyroid diseases and are an insensitive andnonspecific test for thyroid cancer (33).

& RECOMMENDATION 3Routine measurement of serum Tg for initial evaluation ofthyroid nodules is not recommended. Recommendationrating: F

[A6] Serum calcitonin measurement. The utility of serumcalcitonin has been evaluated in a series of prospective,nonrandomized studies (34–37). The data suggest that the








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use of routine serum calcitonin for screening may detectC-cell hyperplasia and medullary thyroid cancer at anearlier stage and overall survival may be improved. How-ever, most studies rely on pentagastrin stimulation test-ing to increase specificity. This drug is no longer availablein the United States, and there remain unresolved issues

of sensitivity, specificity, assay performance and cost-effectiveness. A recent cost-effectiveness analysis suggestedthat calcitonin screening would be cost effective in theUnited States (38). However, the prevalence estimates ofmedullary thyroid cancer in this analysis included patientswith C-cell hyperplasia and micromedullary carcinoma,

123I or 99Tc Scana

Normal or High TSH History, Physical, TSH Low TSH

Diagnostic US


Elevated TSH

Evaluate and Rx for


Not Functioning


Nodule on US Do FNA

(See R5a–c)

No Nodule on US

Normal TSH

Evaluate and Rx for Hypo-


FNA not Indicated


Malignant PTC

Suspicious for PTC



Repeat US- Guided FNA Non-

diagnostic Close Follow-Up or Surgery (See


Pre-op US Surgery

Follicular Neoplasm

Hürthle Cell Neoplasm


Consider 123I Scan if TSH

Low Normal

Not Hyperfunctioning



FIG. 1. Algorithm for the evaluation of patients with one or more thyroid nodules.aIf the scan does not show uniform distribution of tracer activity, ultrasound may be considered to assess for the presence

of a cystic component.




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which have an uncertain clinical significance. If the un-stimulated serum calcitonin determination has been ob-tained and the level is greater than 100 pg=mL, medullarycancer is likely present (39).

& RECOMMENDATION 4The panel cannot recommend either for or against theroutine measurement of serum calcitonin. Recommenda-tion rating: I

[A7] What is the role of FNA biopsy? FNA is the mostaccurate and cost-effective method for evaluating thyroidnodules. Retrospective studies have reported lower rates ofboth nondiagnostic and false-negative cytology specimensfrom FNA procedures performed via US guidance comparedto palpation (40,41). Therefore, for nodules with a higherlikelihood of either a nondiagnostic cytology (>25–50% cysticcomponent) (28) or sampling error (difficult to palpate orposteriorly located nodules), US-guided FNA is preferred (seeTable 3). If the diagnostic US confirms the presence of a pre-dominantly solid nodule corresponding to what is palpated,the FNA may be performed via palpation or US guidance.Traditionally FNA biopsy results are divided into four cate-gories: nondiagnostic, malignant (risk of malignancy at sur-gery >95%), indeterminate or suspicious for neoplasm, andbenign. The recent National Cancer Institute Thyroid Fine-Needle Aspiration State of the Science Conference proposed amore expanded classification for FNA cytology that adds twoadditional categories: suspicious for malignancy (risk of ma-lignancy 50–75%) and follicular lesion of undetermined sig-nificance (risk of malignancy 5–10%). The conference furtherrecommended that ‘‘neoplasm, either follicular or Hurthle cell

neoplasm’’ be substituted for ‘‘indeterminate’’ (risk of malig-nancy 15–25%) (42).

[A8] US for FNA decision making (see Table 3). Varioussonographic characteristics of a thyroid nodule have beenassociated with a higher likelihood of malignancy (43–48).These include nodule hypoechogenicity compared to thenormal thyroid parenchyma, increased intranodular vascu-larity, irregular infiltrative margins, the presence of micro-calcifications, an absent halo, and a shape taller than the widthmeasured in the transverse dimension. With the exception ofsuspicious cervical lymphadenopathy, which is a specific butinsensitive finding, no single sonographic feature or combi-nations of features is adequately sensitive or specific toidentify all malignant nodules. However, certain features andcombination of features have high predictive value for ma-lignancy. Furthermore, the most common sonographic ap-pearances of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer differ. APTC is generally solid or predominantly solid and hy-poechoic, often with infiltrative irregular margins and in-creased nodular vascularity. Microcalcifications, if present,are highly specific for PTC, but may be difficult to distinguishfrom colloid. Conversely, follicular cancer is more often iso- tohyperechoic and has a thick and irregular halo, but does nothave microcalcifications (49). Follicular cancers that are<2 cmin diameter have not been shown to be associated with met-astatic disease (50).

Certain sonographic appearances may also be highly pre-dictive of a benign nodule. A pure cystic nodule, although rare(<2% of all nodules), is highly unlikely to be malignant (47). Inaddition, a spongiform appearance, defined as an aggregationof multiple microcystic components in more than 50% of thenodule volume, is 99.7% specific for identification of a benign

Table 3. Sonographic and Clinical Features of Thyroid Nodules and Recommendations for FNA

Nodule sonographic or clinical features Recommended nodule threshold size for FNA

High-risk historya

Nodule WITH suspicious sonographic featuresb >5 mm Recommendation A

Nodule WITHOUT suspicious sonographic featuresb >5 mm Recommendation I

Abnormal cervical lymph nodes Allc Recommendation A

Microcalcifications present in nodule �1 cm Recommendation B

Solid nodule

AND hypoechoic >1 cm Recommendation B

AND iso- or hyperechoic �1–1.5 cm Recommendation C

Mixed cystic–solid nodule

WITH any suspicious ultrasound featuresb �1.5–2.0 cm Recommendation B

WITHOUT suspicious ultrasound features �2.0 cm Recommendation C

Spongiform nodule �2.0 cmd Recommendation C

Purely cystic nodule FNA not indicatede Recommendation E

aHigh-risk history: History of thyroid cancer in one or more first degree relatives; history of external beam radiation as a child; exposure toionizing radiation in childhood or adolescence; prior hemithyroidectomy with discovery of thyroid cancer, 18FDG avidity on PET scanning;MEN2=FMTC-associated RET protooncogene mutation, calcitonin>100 pg=mL. MEN, multiple endocrine neoplasia; FMTC, familial medullarythyroid cancer.

bSuspicious features: microcalcifications; hypoechoic; increased nodular vascularity; infiltrative margins; taller than wide on transverse view.cFNA cytology may be obtained from the abnormal lymph node in lieu of the thyroid nodule.dSonographic monitoring without biopsy may be an acceptable alternative (see text) (48).eUnless indicated as therapeutic modality (see text).














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thyroid nodule (48,51,52). In a recent study, only 1 of 360malignant nodules demonstrated this appearance (48) and inanother report, a spongiform appearance had a negative pre-dictive value for malignancy of 98.5% (52). Elastography is anemerging and promising sonographic technique that requiresadditional validation with prospective studies (53).

Routine FNA is not recommended for subcentimeter nod-ules. However, the presence of a solid hypoechoic nodule withmicrocalcifications is highly suggestive of PTC. Although mostmicropapillary carcinomas may be incidental findings, a subsetmay be more clinically relevant, especially those >5 mm indiameter (54). These include nodules that have abnormallymph nodes detected clinically or with imaging at presenta-tion (55,56). Therefore, after imaging a subcentimeter nodulewith a suspicious appearance, sonographic assessment of lat-eral neck and central neck lymph nodes (more limited due tothe presence of the thyroid) must be performed. Detection ofabnormal lymph nodes should lead to FNA of the lymph node.Other groups of patients for whom consideration of FNA of asubcentimeter nodule may be warranted include those with ahigher likelihood of malignancy (high risk history): 1) familyhistory of PTC (57); 2) history of external beam radiation ex-posure as a child (58); 3) exposure to ionizing radiation inchildhood or adolescence (59); 4) history of prior hemi-thyroidectomy with discovery of thyroid cancer; and 5) 18FDG-PET–positive thyroid nodules.

Mixed cystic–solid nodules and predominantly cystic with>50% cystic component are generally evaluated by FNA withdirected biopsy of the solid component (especially the vas-cular component.) Cyst drainage may also be performed, es-pecially in symptomatic patients.

& RECOMMENDATION 5 (see Table 3)(a) FNA is the procedure of choice in the evaluation of

thyroid nodules. Recommendation rating: A(b) US guidance for FNA is recommended for those nod-

ules that are nonpalpable, predominantly cystic, orlocated posteriorly in the thyroid lobe. Recommenda-tion rating: B

[A9] What are the principles of the cytopathological inter-pretation of FNA samples?

[A10] Nondiagnostic cytology. Nondiagnostic biopsies arethose that fail to meet specified criteria for cytologic adequacythat have been previously established (the presence of at leastsix follicular cell groups, each containing 10–15 cells derivedfrom at least two aspirates of a nodule) (5). After an initialnondiagnostic cytology result, repeat FNA with US guidancewill yield a diagnostic cytology specimen in 75% of solidnodules and 50% of cystic nodules (28). Therefore, such bi-opsies need to be repeated using US guidance (60) and, ifavailable, on-site cytologic evaluation, which may substan-tially increase cytology specimen adequacy (61,62). However,up to 7% of nodules continue to yield nondiagnostic cytologyresults despite repeated biopsies and may be malignant at thetime of surgery (63,64).

& RECOMMENDATION 6(a) US guidance should be used when repeating the FNA

procedure for a nodule with an initial nondiagnosticcytology result. Recommendation rating: A

(b) Partially cystic nodules that repeatedly yield non-diagnostic aspirates need close observation or surgicalexcision. Surgery should be more strongly consideredif the cytologically nondiagnostic nodule is solid. Re-commendation rating: B

[A11] Cytology suggesting PTC.

& RECOMMENDATION 7If a cytology result is diagnostic of or suspicious for PTC,surgery is recommended (65). Recommendation rating: A

[A12] Indeterminate cytology (follicular or Hurthle cell neoplasmfollicular lesion of undetermined significance, atypia). Indetermi-nate cytology, reported as ‘‘follicular neoplasm’’ or ‘‘Hurthlecell neoplasm’’ can be found in 15–30% of FNA specimens (4)and carries a 20–30% risk of malignancy (42), while lesionsreported as atypia or follicular lesion of undetermined signifi-cance are variably reported and have 5–10% risk of malignancy(42). While certain clinical features such as male sex and nodulesize (>4 cm) (66), older patient age (67), or cytologic featuressuch as presence of atypia (68) can improve the diagnostic ac-curacy for malignancy in patients with indeterminate cytology,overall predictive values are still low. Many molecular markers(e.g., galectin-3 (69), cytokeratin, BRAF) have been evaluated toimprove diagnostic accuracy for indeterminate nodules (70–72). Recent large prospective studies have confirmed the abilityof genetic markers (BRAF, Ras, RET=PTC) and protein markers(galectin-3) to improve preoperative diagnostic accuary forpatients with indeterminate thyroid nodules (69,73,74). Manyof these markers are available for commercial use in referencelaboratories but have not yet been widely applied in clinicalpractice. It is likely that some combination of molecularmarkers will be used in the future to optimize management ofpatients with indeterminate cytology on FNA specimens.

Recently, 18FDG-PET scanning has been utilized in an ef-fort to distinguish those indeterminate nodules that are be-nign from those that are malignant (75–78). 18FDG-PET scansappear to have relatively high sensitivity for malignancy butlow specificity, but results vary among studies (79).

& RECOMMENDATION 8(a) The use of molecular markers (e.g., BRAF, RAS,

RET=PTC, Pax8-PPARg, or galectin-3) may be consid-ered for patients with indeterminate cytology on FNAto help guide management. Recommendation rating: C

(b) The panel cannot recommend for or against routineclinical use of 18FDG-PET scan to improve diagnosticaccuracy of indeterminate thyroid nodules. Recom-mendation rating: I

& RECOMMENDATION 9If the cytology reading reports a follicular neoplasm, a 123Ithyroid scan may be considered, if not already done, es-pecially if the serum TSH is in the low-normal range. If aconcordant autonomously functioning nodule is not seen,lobectomy or total thyroidectomy should be considered.Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 10If the reading is ‘‘suspicious for papillary carcinoma’’ or‘‘Hurthle cell neoplasm,’’ a radionuclide scan is not needed,












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and either lobectomy or total thyroidectomy is re-commended, depending on the lesion’s size and other riskfactors. Recommendation rating: A

[A13] Benign cytology.

& RECOMMENDATION 11If the nodule is benign on cytology, further immediate di-agnostic studies or treatment are not routinely required.Recommendation rating: A

[A14] How should multinodular thyroid glands or multi-nodular goiters be evaluated for malignancy? Patients withmultiple thyroid nodules have the same risk of malignancy asthose with solitary nodules (18,44). However, one large studyfound that a solitary nodule had a higher likelihood of malig-nancy than did a nonsolitary nodule ( p< 0.01), although therisk of malignancy per patient was the same and independentof the number of nodules (47). A diagnostic US should beperformed to delineate the nodules, but if only the ‘‘dominant’’or largest nodule is aspirated, the thyroid cancer may be missed(44). Radionuclide scanning should also be considered in pa-tients with multiple thyroid nodules, if the serum TSH is in thelow or low-normal range, with FNA being reserved for thosenodules that are shown to be hypofunctioning.

& RECOMMENDATION 12(a) In the presence of two or more thyroid nodules >1 cm,

those with a suspicious sonographic appearance (seetext and Table 3) should be aspirated preferentially.Recommendation rating: B

(b) If none of the nodules has a suspicious sonographicappearance and multiple sonographically similar coa-lescent nodules with no intervening normal paren-chyma are present, the likelihood of malignancy is lowand it is reasonable to aspirate the largest nodules onlyand observe the others with serial US examinations.Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 13A low or low-normal serum TSH concentration may sug-gest the presence of autonomous nodule(s). A technetium99 mTc pertechnetate or 123I scan should be performed anddirectly compared to the US images to determine func-tionality of each nodule >1–1.5 cm. FNA should then beconsidered only for those isofunctioning or nonfunctioningnodules, among which those with suspicious sonographicfeatures should be aspirated preferentially. Recommenda-tion rating: B

[A15] What are the best methods for long-termfollow-up of patients with thyroid nodules?

Thyroid nodules diagnosed as benign require follow-upbecause of a low, but not negligible, false-negative rate of upto 5% with FNA (41,80), which may be even higher withnodules >4 cm (81). While benign nodules may decrease insize, they often increase in size, albeit slowly (82). One studyof cytologically benign thyroid nodules <2 cm followed byultrasonography for about 38 months found that the rate ofthyroid nodule growth did not distinguish between benignand malignant nodules (83).

Nodule growth is not in and of itself pathognomonic ofmalignancy, but growth is an indication for repeat biopsy. Formixed cystic–solid nodules, the indication for repeat biopsyshould be based upon growth of the solid component. Fornodules with benign cytologic results, recent series reporta higher false-negative rate with palpation FNA (1–3%)(40,84,85) than with US FNA (0.6%) (40). Since the accuracy ofphysical examination for nodule size is likely inferior to that ofUS (30), it is recommended that serial US be used in follow-upof thyroid nodules to detect clinically significant changes insize. There is no consensus on the definition of nodule growth,however, or the threshold that would require rebiopsy. Somegroups suggest a 15% increase in nodule volume, while othersrecommend measuring a change in the mean nodule diameter(82,86). One reasonable definition of growth is a 20% increasein nodule diameter with a minimum increase in two or moredimensions of at least 2 mm. This approximates the 50% in-crease in nodule volume that was found by Brauer et al. (87) tobe the minimally significant reproducibly recorded change innodule size. These authors suggested that only volumechanges of at least 49% or more can be interpreted as noduleshrinkage or growth and consequently suggest that futureinvestigations should not describe changes in nodule volume<50% as significant. A 50% cutoff for nodule volume reduc-tion or growth, which is used in many studies, appears toappropriate and safe, since the false-negative rate for malig-nant thyroid nodules on repeat FNA is low (88,89).

& RECOMMENDATION 14(a) It is recommended that all benign thyroid nodules be

followed with serial US examinations 6–18 monthsafter the initial FNA. If nodule size is stable (i.e., nomore than a 50% change in volume or <20% increasein at least two nodule dimensions in solid nodules orin the solid portion of mixed cystic–solid nodules), theinterval before the next follow-up clinical examinationor US may be longer, e.g., every 3–5 years. Recom-mendation rating: C

(b) If there is evidence for nodule growth either by palpationor sonographically (more than a 50% change in volume ora 20% increase in at least two nodule dimensions witha minimal increase of 2 mm in solid nodules or in thesolid portion of mixed cystic–solid nodules), the FNAshould be repeated, preferably with US guidance. Re-commendation rating: B

Cystic nodules that are cytologically benign can be moni-tored for recurrence (fluid reaccumulation) which can be seenin 60–90% of patients (90,91). For those patients with subse-quent recurrent symptomatic cystic fluid accumulation,surgical removal, generally by hemithyroidectomy, or per-cutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) are both reasonable strate-gies. Four controlled studies demonstrated a 75–85% successrate after PEI compared with a 7–38% success rate in controlstreated by simple cyst evacuation or saline injection. Successwas achieved after an average of two PEI treatments. Com-plications included mild to moderate local pain, flushing,dizziness, and dysphonia (90–93).

& RECOMMENDATION 15Recurrent cystic thyroid nodules with benign cytologyshould be considered for surgical removal or PEI based on






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compressive symptoms and cosmetic concerns. Recom-mendation rating: B

[A16] What is the role of medical therapy for benign thyroidnodules? Evidence from multiple randomized control trialsand three meta-analyses suggest that thyroid hormone in dosesthat suppress the serum TSH to subnormal levels may result ina decrease in nodule size and may prevent the appearance ofnew nodules in regions of the world with borderline low iodineintake. Data in iodine-sufficient populations are less compel-ling (94–96), with large studies suggesting that only about17–25% of thyroid nodules shrink more than 50% with le-vothyroxine (LT4) suppression of serum TSH (94–96).

& RECOMMENDATION 16Routine suppression therapy of benign thyroid nodules iniodine sufficient populations is not recommended. Re-commendation rating: F

& RECOMMENDATION 17Patients with growing nodules that are benign after repeatbiopsy should be considered for continued monitoring orintervention with surgery based on symptoms and clinicalconcern. There are no data on the use of LT4 in this sub-population of patients. Recommendation rating: I

[A17] How should thyroid nodules in children be man-aged? Thyroid nodules occur less frequently in childrenthan in adults. In one study in which approximately 5000children aged 11–18 years were assessed annually in thesouthwestern United States, palpable thyroid nodules oc-curred in approximately 20 per 1000 children, with an annualincidence of 7 new cases per 1000 children (97). Some studieshave shown the frequency of malignancy to be higher inchildren than adults, in the range of 15–20% (98–100), whereasother data have suggested that the frequency of thyroid can-cer in childhood thyroid nodules is similar to that of adults(101,102). FNA biopsy is sensitive and specific in the diagnosisof childhood thyroid nodules (99–101).

& RECOMMENDATION 18The diagnostic and therapeutic approach to one or morethyroid nodules in a child should be the same as it would bein an adult (clinical evaluation, serum TSH, US, FNA).Recommendation rating: A

[A18] How should thyroid nodules in pregnant women bemanaged? It is uncertain if thyroid nodules discovered inpregnant women are more likely to be malignant than thosefound in nonpregnant women (103), since there are no popu-lation-based studies on this question. The evaluation is the sameas for a nonpregnant patient, with the exception that a radio-nuclide scan is contraindicated. In addition, for patients withnodules diagnosed as DTC by FNA during pregnancy, delay-ing surgery until after delivery does not affect outcome (104).

& RECOMMENDATION 19For euthyroid and hypothyroid pregnant women withthyroid nodules, FNA should be performed. For womenwith suppressed serum TSH levels that persist after the firsttrimester, FNA may be deferred until after pregnancy andcessation of lactation, when a radionuclide scan can be

performed to evaluate nodule function. Recommendationrating: A

If the FNA cytology is consistent with PTC, surgery is re-commended. However, there is no consensus about whethersurgery should be performed during pregnancy or after de-livery. To minimize the risk of miscarriage, surgery duringpregnancy should be done in the second trimester before24 weeks gestation (105). However, PTC discovered duringpregnancy does not behave more aggressively than that di-agnosed in a similar-aged group of nonpregnant women(104,106). A retrospective study of pregnant women with DTCfound there to be no difference in either recurrence, or survivalrates, between women operated on during or after theirpregnancy (104). Further, retrospective data suggest thattreatment delays of less than 1 year from the time of thyroidcancer discovery do not adversely affect patient outcome (107).Finally, a recent study reported a higher rate of complicationsin pregnant women undergoing thyroid surgery comparedwith nonpregnant women (108). Some experts recommendthyroid hormone suppression therapy for pregnant womenwith FNA suspicious for or diagnostic of PTC, if surgery isdeferred until the postpartum period (109).

& RECOMMENDATION 20(a) A nodule with cytology indicating PTC discovered early

in pregnancy should be monitored sonographically andif it grows substantially (as defined above) by 24 weeksgestation, surgery should be performed at that point.However, if it remains stable by midgestation or if it isdiagnosed in the second half of pregnancy, surgery maybe performed after delivery. In patients with more ad-vanced disease, surgery in the second trimester is rea-sonable. Recommendation rating: C

(b) In pregnant women with FNA that is suspicious for ordiagnostic of PTC, consideration could be given toadministration of LT4 therapy to keep the TSH in therange of 0.1–1 mU=L. Recommendation rating: C


Differentiated thyroid cancer, arising from thyroid follicularepithelial cells, accounts for the vast majority of thyroid can-cers. Of the differentiated cancers, papillary cancer comprisesabout 85% of cases compared to about 10% that have follicularhistology, and 3% that are Hurthle cell or oxyphil tumors (110).In general, stage for stage, the prognoses of PTC and follicularcancer are similar (107,110). Certain histologic subtypes of PTChave a worse prognosis (tall cell variant, columnar cell variant,diffuse sclerosing variant), as do more highly invasive variantsof follicular cancer. These are characterized by extensive vas-cular invasion and invasion into extrathyroidal tissues orextensive tumor necrosis and=or mitoses. Other poorly dif-ferentiated aggressive tumor histologies include trabecular,insular, and solid subtypes (111). In contrast, minimally in-vasive follicular thyroid cancer, is characterized histologicallyby microscopic penetration of the tumor capsule withoutvascular invasion, and carries no excess mortality (112–115).

[B2] Goals of initial therapy of DTC

The goals of initial therapy of DTC are follows:






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1. To remove the primary tumor, disease that has ex-tended beyond the thyroid capsule, and involved cer-vical lymph nodes. Completeness of surgical resectionis an important determinant of outcome, while residualmetastatic lymph nodes represent the most commonsite of disease persistence=recurrence (116–118).

2. To minimize treatment-related morbidity. The extent ofsurgery and the experience of the surgeon both playimportant roles in determining the risk of surgicalcomplications (119,120).

3. To permit accurate staging of the disease. Because dis-ease staging can assist with initial prognostication,disease management, and follow-up strategies, accuratepostoperative staging is a crucial element in the man-agement of patients with DTC (121,122).

4. To facilitate postoperative treatment with radioactiveiodine, where appropriate. For patients undergoing RAIremnant ablation, or RAI treatment of residual or met-astatic disease, removal of all normal thyroid tissue isan important element of initial surgery (123). Near totalor total thyroidectomy also may reduce the risk for re-currence within the contralateral lobe (124).

5. To permit accurate long-term surveillance for diseaserecurrence. Both RAI whole-body scanning (WBS) andmeasurement of serum Tg are affected by residualnormal thyroid tissue. Where these approaches areutilized for long-term monitoring, near-total or total-thyroidectomy is required (125).

6. To minimize the risk of disease recurrence and meta-static spread. Adequate surgery is the most importanttreatment variable influencing prognosis, while radio-active iodine treatment, TSH suppression, and externalbeam irradiation each play adjunctive roles in at leastsome patients (125–128).

[B3] What is the role of preoperative staging with diag-nostic imaging and laboratory tests?

[B4] Neck imaging. Differentiated thyroid carcinoma(particularly papillary carcinoma) involves cervical lymphnodes in 20–50% of patients in most series using standardpathologic techniques (45,129–132), and may be present evenwhen the primary tumor is small and intrathyroidal (133). Thefrequency of micrometastases may approach 90%, dependingon the sensitivity of the detection method (134,135). However,the clinical implications of micrometastases are likely lesssignificant compared to macrometastases. Preoperative USidentifies suspicious cervical adenopathy in 20–31% of cases,potentially altering the surgical approach (136,137) in as manyas 20% of patients (138,139). However, preoperative USidentifies only half of the lymph nodes found at surgery, dueto the presence of the overlying thyroid gland (140).

Sonographic features suggestive of abnormal metastaticlymph nodes include loss of the fatty hilus, a rounded ratherthan oval shape, hypoechogenicity, cystic change, calcifica-tions, and peripheral vascularity. No single sonographic fea-ture is adequately sensitive for detection of lymph nodes withmetastatic thyroid cancer. A recent study correlated the sono-graphic features acquired 4 days preoperatively directly withthe histology of 56 cervical lymph nodes. Some of the mostspecific criteria were short axis>5 mm (96%), presence of cysticareas (100%), presence of hyperechogenic punctuations re-

presenting either colloid or microcalcifications (100%), andperipheral vascularity (82%). Of these, the only one with suf-ficient sensitivity was peripheral vascularity (86%). All of theothers had sensitivities <60% and would not be adequate touse as single criterion for identification of malignant involve-ment (140). As shown by earlier studies (141,142), the featurewith the highest sensitivity was absence of a hilus (100%), butthis had a low specificity of only 29%. The location of the lymphnodes may also be useful for decision-making. Malignantlymph nodes are much more likely to occur in levels III, IV,and VI than in level II (140,142). Figure 2 illustrates the delin-eation of cervical lymph node Levels I through VI.

Confirmation of malignancy in lymph nodes with a sus-picious sonographic appearance is achieved by US-guidedFNA aspiration for cytology and=or measurement of Tg in theneedle washout. This FNA measurement of Tg is valid even inpatients with circulating Tg autoantibodies (143,144).

Accurate staging is important in determining the prognosisand tailoring treatment for patients with DTC. However,unlike many tumor types, the presence of metastatic diseasedoes not obviate the need for surgical excision of the primarytumor in DTC (145). Because metastatic disease may respondto RAI therapy, removal of the thyroid as well as the primarytumor and accessible locoregional disease remains an im-portant component of initial treatment even in metastaticdisease.

As US evaluation is uniquely operator dependent, alter-native imaging procedures may be preferable in some clinicalsettings, though the sensitivities of CT, MRI, and PET for thedetection of cervical lymph node metastases are all relativelylow (30–40%) (146). These alternative imaging modalities, aswell as laryngoscopy and endoscopy, may also be useful inthe assessment of large, rapidly growing, or retrosternal orinvasive tumors to assess the involvement of extrathyroidaltissues (147,148).

& RECOMMENDATION 21Preoperative neck US for the contralateral lobe and cervical(central and especially lateral neck compartments) lymphnodes is recommended for all patients undergoing thy-roidectomy for malignant cytologic findings on biopsy. US-guided FNA of sonographically suspicious lymph nodesshould be performed to confirm malignancy if this wouldchange management. Recommendation rating: B

& RECOMMENDATION 22Routine preoperative use of other imaging studies (CT,MRI, PET) is not recommended. Recommendation rating: E

[B5] Measurement of serum Tg. There is limited evidencethat high preoperative concentrations of serum Tg may pre-dict a higher sensitivity for postoperative surveillance withserum Tg (149). Evidence that this impacts patient manage-ment or outcomes is not yet available.

& RECOMMENDATION 23Routine preoperative measurement of serum Tg is not re-commended. Recommendation rating: E

[B6] What is the appropriate operation for indeterminatethyroid nodules and DTC? The goals of thyroid surgerycan include provision of a diagnosis after a nondiagnostic or














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indeterminate biopsy, removal of the thyroid cancer, staging,and preparation for radioactive ablation and serum Tg moni-toring. Surgical options to address the primary tumor shouldbe limited to hemithyroidectomy with or without isthmu-sectomy, near-total thyroidectomy (removal of all grossly vis-ible thyroid tissue, leaving only a small amount [<1 g] of tissueadjacent to the recurrent laryngeal nerve near the ligament ofBerry), and total thyroidectomy (removal of all grossly visiblethyroid tissue). Subtotal thyroidectomy, leaving >1 g of tissuewith the posterior capsule on the uninvolved side, is an inap-propriate operation for thyroid cancer (150).

[B7] Surgery for a nondiagnostic biopsy, a biopsy suspicious forpapillary cancer or suggestive of ‘‘follicular neoplasm’’ (includingspecial consideration for patients with other risk factors). Amongstsolitary thyroid nodules with an indeterminate (‘‘follicularneoplasm’’ or Hurthle cell neoplasm) biopsy, the risk ofmalignancy is approximately 20% (151–153). The risk ishigher with large tumors (>4 cm), when atypical features(e.g., cellular pleomorphism) are seen on biopsy, when thebiopsy reading is ‘‘suspicious for papillary carcinoma,’’ inpatients with a family history of thyroid carcinoma, and inpatients with a history of radiation exposure (66,154,155). Forsolitary nodules that are repeatedly nondiagnostic on biopsy,the risk of malignancy is unknown but is probably closer to 5–10% (63).

& RECOMMENDATION 24For patients with an isolated indeterminate solitary nodulewho prefer a more limited surgical procedure, thyroid lo-bectomy is the recommended initial surgical approach.Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 25(a) Because of an increased risk for malignancy, total

thyroidectomy is indicated in patients with indeter-minate nodules who have large tumors (>4 cm), whenmarked atypia is seen on biopsy, when the biopsyreading is ‘‘suspicious for papillary carcinoma,’’ inpatients with a family history of thyroid carcinoma,and in patients with a history of radiation exposure.Recommendation rating: A

(b) Patients with indeterminate nodules who have bilat-eral nodular disease, or those who prefer to undergobilateral thyroidectomy to avoid the possibility of re-quiring a future surgery on the contralateral lobe,should also undergo total or near-total thyroidectomy.Recommendation rating: C

[B8] Surgery for a biopsy diagnostic for malignancy. Near-total or total thyroidectomy is recommended if the primarythyroid carcinoma is >1 cm (156), there are contralateral



Jugular vein

Carotid arterySpinal accessory nerve


Anterior digastric

Hyoid bone

Cricoid cartilage






FIG. 2. Lymph node compartments separated into levels and sublevels. Level VI contains the thyroid gland, and theadjacent nodes bordered superiorly by the hyoid bone, inferiorly by the innominate (brachiocephalic) artery, and laterally oneach side by the carotid sheaths. The level II, III, and IV nodes are arrayed along the jugular veins on each side, borderedanteromedially by level VI and laterally by the posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The level III nodes arebounded superiorly by the level of the hyoid bone, and inferiorly by the cricoid cartilage; levels II and IV are above and belowlevel III, respectively. The level I node compartment includes the submental and submandibular nodes, above the hyoid bone,and anterior to the posterior edge of the submandibular gland. Finally, the level V nodes are in the posterior triangle, lateralto the lateral edge of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Levels I, II, and V can be further subdivided as noted in the figure. Theinferior extent of level VI is defined as the suprasternal notch. Many authors also include the pretracheal and paratrachealsuperior mediastinal lymph nodes above the level of the innominate artery (sometimes referred to as level VII) in central neckdissection (166).




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thyroid nodules present or regional or distant metastases arepresent, the patient has a personal history of radiation therapyto the head and neck, or the patient has first-degree familyhistory of DTC. Older age (>45 years) may also be a criterionfor recommending near-total or total thyroidectomy evenwith tumors <1–1.5 cm, because of higher recurrence rates inthis age group (112,116,122,123,157). Increased extent of pri-mary surgery may improve survival for high-risk patients(158–160) and low-risk patients (156). A study of over 50,000patients with PTC found on multivariate analysis that totalthyroidectomy significantly improved recurrence and sur-vival rates for tumors >1.0 cm (156). When examined sepa-rately, even patients with 1.0–2.0 cm tumors who underwentlobectomy, had a 24% higher risk of recurrence and a 49%higher risk of thyroid cancer mortality ( p¼ 0.04 and p< 0.04,respectively). Other studies have also shown that rates of re-currence are reduced by total or near total thyroidectomyamong low-risk patients (122,161,162).

& RECOMMENDATION 26For patients with thyroid cancer >1 cm, the initial surgicalprocedure should be a near-total or total thyroidectomyunless there are contraindications to this surgery. Thyroidlobectomy alone may be sufficient treatment for small(<1 cm), low-risk, unifocal, intrathyroidal papillary carci-nomas in the absence of prior head and neck irradiation orradiologically or clinically involved cervical nodal metas-tases. Recommendation rating: A

[B9] Lymph node dissection. Regional lymph node metas-tases are present at the time of diagnosis in 20–90% of patientswith papillary carcinoma and a lesser proportion of patientswith other histotypes (129,139). Although PTC lymph nodemetastases are reported by some to have no clinically impor-tant effect on outcome in low risk patients, a study of theSurveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) databasefound, among 9904 patients with PTC, that lymph node me-tastases, age>45 years, distant metastasis, and large tumor sizesignificantly predicted poor outcome on multivariate analysis(163). All-cause survival at 14 years was 82% for PTC withoutlymph node and 79% with lymph node metastases ( p< 0.05).Another recent SEER registry study concluded that cervicallymph node metastases conferred an independent risk of de-creased survival, but only in patients with follicular cancer andpatients with papillary cancer over age 45 years (164). Also, therisk of regional recurrence is higher in patients with lymphnode metastases, especially in those patients with multiplemetastases and=or extracapsular nodal extension (165).

In many patients, lymph node metastases in the centralcompartment (166) do not appear abnormal preoperativelywith imaging (138) or by inspection at the time of surgery.Central compartment dissection (therapeutic or prophylactic)can be achieved with low morbidity in experienced hands(167–171), and may convert some patients from clinical N0 topathologic N1a, upstaging patients over age 45 from Ameri-can Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage I to III (172). A

recent consensus conference statement discusses the relevantanatomy of the central neck compartment, delineates the no-dal subgroups within the central compartment commonlyinvolved with thyroid cancer, and defines the terminologyrelevant to central compartment neck dissection (173).

Comprehensive bilateral central compartment node dis-section may improve survival compared to historic controlsand reduce risk for nodal recurrence (174). In addition, se-lective unilateral paratracheal central compartment nodedissection increases the proportion of patients who appeardisease free with unmeasureable Tg levels 6 months aftersurgery (175). Other studies of central compartment dissec-tion have demonstrated higher morbidity, primarily recurrentlaryngeal nerve injury and transient hypoparathyroidism,with no reduction in recurrence (176,177). In another study,comprehensive (bilateral) central compartment dissectiondemonstrated higher rates of transient hypoparathyroidismcompared to selective (unilateral) dissection with no reduc-tion in rates of undetectable or low Tg levels (178). Althoughsome lymph node metastases may be treated with radioactiveiodine, several treatments may be necessary, depending uponthe histology, size, and number of metastases (179).

& RECOMMENDATION 27*(a) Therapeutic central-compartment (level VI) neck dis-

section for patients with clinically involved central orlateral neck lymph nodes should accompany totalthyroidectomy to provide clearance of disease from thecentral neck. Recommendation rating: B

(b) Prophylactic central-compartment neck dissection(ipsilateral or bilateral) may be performed in patientswith papillary thyroid carcinoma with clinically unin-volved central neck lymph nodes, especially for ad-vanced primary tumors (T3 or T4). Recommendationrating: C

(c) Near-total or total thyroidectomy without prophylacticcentral neck dissection may be appropriate for small(T1 or T2), noninvasive, clinically node-negative PTCsand most follicular cancer. Recommendation rating: C

These recommendations (R27a–c) should be interpreted inlight of available surgical expertise. For patients with small,noninvasive, apparently node-negative tumors, the balance ofrisk and benefit may favor simple near-total thyroidectomywith close intraoperative inspection of the central compart-ment with compartmental dissection only in the presence ofobviously involved lymph nodes. This approach may increasethe chance of future locoregional recurrence, but overall thisapproach may be safer in less experienced surgical hands.

Lymph nodes in the lateral neck (compartments II–V), levelVII (anterior mediastinum), and rarely in Level I may also beinvolved by thyroid cancer (129,180). For those patients inwhom nodal disease is evident clinically, on preoperative USand nodal FNA or Tg measurement, or at the time of surgery,surgical resection may reduce the risk of recurrence andpossibly mortality (56,139,181). Functional compartmental

*R27a, 27b, 27c, and 28 were developed in collaboration with an ad hoc committee of endocrinologists (David S. Cooper, M.D., Richard T.Kloos, M.D., Susan J. Mandel, M.D., M.P.H., and R. Michael Tuttle, M.D.), otolaryngology-head and neck surgeons (Gregory Randolph, M.D.,David Steward, M.D., David Terris, M.D. and Ralph Tufano, M.D.), and endocrine surgeons (Sally Carty, M.D., Gerard M. Doherty, M.D.,Quan-Yang Duh, M.D., and Robert Udelsman, M.D., M.B.A.)








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en-bloc neck dissection is favored over isolated lymphade-nectomy (‘‘berry picking’’) with limited data suggesting im-proved mortality (118,182–184).

& RECOMMENDATION 28*Therapeutic lateral neck compartmental lymph node dis-section should be performed for patients with biopsy-proven metastatic lateral cervical lymphadenopathy.Recommendation rating: B

[B10] Completion thyroidectomy. Completion thyroidec-tomy may be necessary when the diagnosis of malignancy ismade following lobectomy for an indeterminate or non-diagnostic biopsy. Some patients with malignancy may re-quire completion thyroidectomy to provide completeresection of multicentric disease (185), and to allow RAItherapy. Most (186,187) but not all (185) studies of papillarycancer have observed a higher rate of cancer in the oppositelobe when multifocal (two or more foci), as opposed to uni-focal, disease is present in the ipsilateral lobe. The surgicalrisks of two-stage thyroidectomy (lobectomy followed bycompletion thyroidectomy) are similar to those of a near-totalor total thyroidectomy (188).

& RECOMMENDATION 29Completion thyroidectomy should be offered to those pa-tients for whom a near-total or total thyroidectomy wouldhave been recommended had the diagnosis been availablebefore the initial surgery. This includes all patients withthyroid cancer except those with small (<1 cm), unifocal,intrathyroidal, node-negative, low-risk tumors. Ther-apeutic central neck lymph node dissection should be in-cluded if the lymph nodes are clinically involved.Recommendation rating: B

& RECOMMENDATION 30Ablation of the remaining lobe with radioactive iodine hasbeen used as an alternative to completion thyroidectomy(189). It is unknown whether this approach results in sim-ilar long-term outcomes. Consequently, routine radioactiveiodine ablation in lieu of completion thyroidectomy is notrecommended. Recommendation rating: D

[B11] What is the role of postoperative staging systemsand which should be used?

[B12] The role of postoperative staging. Postoperative stag-ing for thyroid cancer, as for other cancer types, is used: 1) topermit prognostication for an individual patient with DTC;2) to tailor decisions regarding postoperative adjunctive ther-apy, including RAI therapy and TSH suppression, to assess thepatient’s risk for disease recurrence and mortality; 3) to makedecisions regarding the frequency and intensity of follow-up,directing more intensive follow-up towards patients at highestrisk; and 4) to enable accurate communication regarding apatient among health care professionals. Staging systems alsoallow evaluation of differing therapeutic strategies applied tocomparable groups of patients in clinical studies.

[B13] AJCC=UICC TNM staging. Application of theAJCC=International Union against Cancer (AJCC=UICC)classification system based on pTNM parameters and age isrecommended for tumors of all types, including thyroidcancer (121,190), because it provides a useful shorthandmethod to describe the extent of the tumor (191) (Table 4). Thisclassification is also used for hospital cancer registries andepidemiologic studies. In thyroid cancer, the AJCC=UICCstage does not take account of several additional independentprognostic variables and may risk misclassification of somepatients. Numerous other schemes have been developed in aneffort to achieve more accurate risk factor stratification, in-cluding CAEORTC, AGES, AMES, U of C, MACIS, OSU,MSKCC, and NTCTCS systems. (107,116,122,159,192–195).These schemes take into account a number of factors identi-fied as prognostic for outcome in multivariate analysis ofretrospective studies, with the most predictive factors gener-ally being regarded as the presence of distant metastases, theage of the patient, and the extent of the tumor. These and otherrisk factors are weighted differently among these systemsaccording to their importance in predicting outcome, but noscheme has demonstrated clear superiority (195). Each of theschemes allows accurate identification of the majority (70–85%) of patients at low-risk of mortality (T1–3, M0 patients),allowing the follow-up and management of these patients tobe less intensive than the higher-risk minority (T4 and M1patients), who may benefit from a more aggressive manage-ment strategy (195). Nonetheless, none of the examinedstaging classifications is able to account for more than a smallproportion of the uncertainty in either short-term, disease-specific mortality or the likelihood of remaining disease free(121,195,196). AJCC=IUCC staging was developed to predictrisk for death, not recurrence. For assessment of risk of re-currence, a three-level stratification can be used:

� Low-risk patients have the following characteristics:1) no local or distant metastases; 2) all macroscopic tu-mor has been resected; 3) there is no tumor invasion oflocoregional tissues or structures; 4) the tumor does nothave aggressive histology (e.g., tall cell, insular, colum-nar cell carcinoma) or vascular invasion; 5) and, if 131I isgiven, there is no 131I uptake outside the thyroid bed onthe first posttreatment whole-body RAI scan (RxWBS)(197–199).

� Intermediate-risk patients have any of the following:1) microscopic invasion of tumor into the perithyroidalsoft tissues at initial surgery; 2) cervical lymph nodemetastases or 131I uptake outside the thyroid bed on theRxWBS done after thyroid remnant ablation (200,201);or 3) tumor with aggressive histology or vascular inva-sion (202–204).

� High-risk patients have 1) macroscopic tumor invasion,2) incomplete tumor resection, 3) distant metastases, andpossibly 4) thyroglobulinemia out of proportion to whatis seen on the posttreatment scan (205).

Since initial staging is based on clinico-pathologic factorsthat are available shortly after diagnosis and initial therapy,the AJCC stage of the patient does not change over time.

*See footnote, page 1179.










DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (15)

However, depending on the clinical course of the disease andresponse to therapy, the risk of recurrence and the risk ofdeath may change over time. Appropriate management re-quires an ongoing reassessment of the risk of recurrence andthe risk of disease-specific mortality as new data are obtainedduring follow-up (206).

& RECOMMENDATION 31Because of its utility in predicting disease mortality, andits requirement for cancer registries, AJCC=UICC stagingis recommended for all patients with DTC. The use ofpostoperative clinico-pathologic staging systems is also re-commended to improve prognostication and to planfollow-up for patients with DTC. Recommendation rating: B

[B14] What is the role of postoperative RAI remnantablation? Postoperative RAI remnant ablation is increas-ingly being used to eliminate the postsurgical thyroid rem-nant (122). Ablation of the small amount of residual normalthyroid remaining after total thyroidectomy may facilitate theearly detection of recurrence based on serum Tg measurementand=or RAI WBS. Additionally, the posttherapy scan ob-

tained at the time of remnant ablation may facilitate initialstaging by identifying previously undiagnosed disease, es-pecially in the lateral neck. Furthermore, from a theoreticalpoint of view, this first dose of RAI may also be consideredadjuvant therapy because of the potential tumoricidal effect onpersistent thyroid cancer cells remaining after appropriatesurgery in patients at risk for recurrence or disease specificmortality. Depending on the risk stratification of the indi-vidual patient, the primary goal of the first dose of RAI aftertotal thyroidectomy may be 1) remnant ablation (to facilitatedetection of recurrent disease and initial staging), 2) adjuvanttherapy (to decrease risk of recurrence and disease specificmortality by destroying suspected, but unproven metastaticdisease), or 3) RAI therapy (to treat known persistent disease).While these three goals are closely interrelated, a clearer un-derstanding of the specific indications for treatment will im-prove our ability to select patients most likely to benefit fromRAI after total thyroidectomy, and will also influence ourrecommendations regarding choice of administered activityfor individual patients. Supporting the use of RAI as adju-vant therapy, a number of large, retrospective studies show asignificant reduction in the rates of disease recurrence

Table 4. TNM Classification System for Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma


T1 Tumor diameter 2 cm or smaller

T2 Primary tumor diameter >2 to 4 cm

T3 Primary tumor diameter >4 cm limited to the thyroid or with minimal extrathyroidal extension

T4a Tumor of any size extending beyond the thyroid capsule to invade subcutaneous soft tissues, larynx, trachea,esophagus, or recurrent laryngeal nerve

T4b Tumor invades prevertebral fascia or encases carotid artery or mediastinal vessels

TX Primary tumor size unknown, but without extrathyroidal invasion

N0 No metastatic nodes

N1a Metastases to level VI (pretracheal, paratracheal, and prelaryngeal=Delphian lymph nodes)

N1b Metastasis to unilateral, bilateral, contralateral cervical or superior mediastinal nodes

NX Nodes not assessed at surgery

M0 No distant metastases

M1 Distant metastases

MX Distant metastases not assessed


Patient age <45 years Patient age 45 years or older

Stage I Any T, any N, M0 T1, N0, M0

Stage II Any T, any N, M1 T2, N0, M0

Stage III T3, N0, M0

T1, N1a, M0

T2, N1a, M0

T3, N1a, M0

Stage IVA T4a, N0, M0

T4a, N1a, M0

T1, N1b, M0

T2, N1b, M0

T3, N1b, N0

T4a, N1b, M0

Stage IVB T4b, Any N, M0

Stage IVC Any T, Any N, M1

Used with the permission of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), Chicago, Illinois.The original source for this material is the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual, Sixth Edition (435).








DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (16)

(107,159,160,207) and cause-specific mortality (159,160,207–209). However, other similar studies show no such benefit, atleast among the majority of patients with PTC, who are at thelowest risk for mortality (110,122,162,209–212). In thosestudies that show benefit, the advantage appears to be re-stricted to patients with tumors >1.5 cm, or with residualdisease following surgery, while lower-risk patients do notshow evidence for benefit (122,159,213). The National ThyroidCancer Treatment Cooperative Study Group (NTCTCSG) re-port (214) of 2936 patients found after a median follow-up of 3years, that near-total thyroidectomy followed by RAI therapyand aggressive thyroid hormone suppression therapy pre-dicted improved overall survival of patients with NTCTCSGstage III and IV disease, and was also beneficial for patientswith NTCTCSG stage II disease. No impact of therapy wasobserved in patients with stage I disease. It should be notedthat the NTCTCSG staging criteria are similar but not iden-tical to the AJCC criteria. Thus, older patients with micro-scopic extrathyroidal extension are stage II in the NTCTCSGsystem, but are stage III in the AJCC system. There are recentdata suggesting a benefit of RAI in patients with moreaggressive histologies (215). There are no prospective ran-domized trials that have addressed this question (209). Un-fortunately, many clinical circ*mstances have not beenexamined with regard to the efficacy of RAI ablative therapy.Table 5 presents a framework for deciding whether RAI isworthwhile, solely based on the AJCC classification, andprovides the rationale for therapy and the strength of existingevidence for or against treatment.

In addition to the major factors listed in Table 5, severalother histological features may place the patient at higher riskof local recurrence or metastases than would have been pre-dicted by the AJCC staging system. These include worrisomehistologic subtypes (such as tall cell, columnar, insular, andsolid variants, as well as poorly differentiated thyroid cancer),

the presence of intrathyroidal vascular invasion, or the find-ing of gross or microscopic multifocal disease. While many ofthese features have been associated with increased risk, thereare inadequate data to determine whether RAI ablation has abenefit based on specific histologic findings, independent oftumor size, lymph node status, and the age of the patient.Therefore, while RAI ablation is not recommended for allpatients with these higher risk histologic features, the pres-ence of these features in combination with size of the tumor,lymph node status, and patient age may increase the risk ofrecurrence or metastatic spread to a degree that is high en-ough to warrant RAI ablation in selected patients. However,in the absence of data for most of these factors, clinical judg-ment must prevail in the decision-making process. For mi-croscopic multifocal papillary cancer, when all foci are<1 cm,recent data suggest that RAI is of no benefit in preventingrecurrence (216,217).

Nonpapillary histologies (such as follicular thyroid cancerand Hurthle cell cancer) are generally regarded as higher risktumors. Expert opinion supports the use of RAI in almost allof these cases. However, because of the excellent prognosisassociated with surgical resection alone in small follicularthyroid cancers manifesting only capsular invasion (withoutvascular invasion (so-called ‘‘minimally invasive follicularcancer’’), RAI ablation may not be required for all patientswith this histological diagnosis (112).

& RECOMMENDATION 32(a) RAI ablation is recommended for all patients with

known distant metastases, gross extrathyroidal exten-sion of the tumor regardless of tumor size, or primarytumor size >4 cm even in the absence of other higherrisk features (see Table 5 for strength of evidence).

(b) RAI ablation is recommended for selected patientswith 1–4 cm thyroid cancers confined to the thyroid,

Table 5. Major Factors Impacting Decision Making in Radioiodine Remnant Ablation

Expected benefit

Factors Description

Decreasedrisk ofdeath

Decreasedrisk of


May facilitateinitial stagingand follow-up

RAI ablationusually




T1 1 cm or less, intrathyroidal ormicroscopic multifocal

No No Yes No E

1–2 cm, intrathyroidal No Conflicting dataa Yes Selective usea I

T2 >2–4 cm, intrathyroidal No Conflicting dataa Yes Selective usea C

T3 >4 cm

<45 years old No Conflicting dataa Yes Yes B

�45 years old Yes Yes Yes Yes B

Any size, any age, minimalextrathyroidal extension

No Inadequate dataa Yes Selective usea I

T4 Any size with grossextrathyroidal extension

Yes Yes Yes Yes B

Nx,N0 No metastatic nodes documented No No Yes No I

N1 <45 years old No Conflicting dataa Yes Selective usea C

>45 years old Conflicting data Conflicting dataa Yes Selective usea C

M1 Distant metastasis present Yes Yes Yes Yes A

aBecause of either conflicting or inadequate data, we cannot recommend either for or against RAI ablation for this entire subgroup.However, selected patients within this subgroup with higher risk features may benefit from RAI ablation (see modifying factors in the text).


DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (17)

who have documented lymph node metastases, orother higher risk features (see preceding paragraphs)when the combination of age, tumor size, lymph nodestatus, and individual histology predicts an interme-diate to high risk of recurrence or death from thyroidcancer (see Table 5 for strength of evidence for indi-vidual features). Recommendation rating: C (for se-lective use in higher risk patients)

(c) RAI ablation is not recommended for patients withunifocal cancer <1 cm without other higher risk fea-tures (see preceding paragraphs). Recommendationrating: E

(d) RAI ablation is not recommended for patients withmultifocal cancer when all foci are <1 cm in the ab-sence other higher risk features (see preceding para-graphs). Recommendation rating: E

[B15] How should patients be prepared for RAI ablation?(see Fig. 3) Remnant ablation requires TSH stimulation. Nocontrolled studies have been performed to assess adequatelevels of endogenous TSH for optimal ablation therapy orfollow-up testing. Noncontrolled studies suggest that a TSHof >30 mU=L is associated with increased RAI uptake intumors (218), while studies using single dose exogenous TSHsuggest maximal thyrocyte stimulation at TSH levels between51 and 82 mU=L (219, 220). However, the total area under theTSH curve, and not simply the peak serum TSH concentra-tion, is also potentially important for optimal RAI uptake bythyroid follicular cells. Endogenous TSH elevation can beachieved by two basic approaches to thyroid hormone with-drawal, stopping LT4 and switching to LT3 for 2–4 weeksfollowed by withdrawal of LT3 for 2 weeks, or discontinua-tion of LT4 for 3 weeks without use of LT3. Both methods ofpreparation can achieve serum TSH levels >30 mU=L in>90% of patients (220–229). These two approaches have notbeen directly compared for efficiency of patient prepara-tion (efficacy of ablation, iodine uptake, Tg levels, diseasedetection), although a recent prospective study showed nodifference in hypothyroid symptoms between these two ap-proaches (230). Other preparative methods have been pro-posed, but have not been validated by other investigators(231,232). Children with thyroid cancer achieve adequateTSH elevation within 14 days of LT4 withdrawal (233). A lowserum Tg level at the time of ablation has excellent negativepredictive value for absence of residual disease, and the riskof persistent disease increases with higher stimulated Tglevels (198,205,234).

& RECOMMENDATION 33Patients undergoing RAI therapy or diagnostic testing canbe prepared by LT4 withdrawal for at least 2–3 weeks orLT3 treatment for 2–4 weeks and LT3 withdrawal for 2weeks with measurement of serum TSH to determinetiming of testing or therapy (TSH >30 mU=L). Thyroxinetherapy (with or without LT3 for 7–10 days) may be re-sumed on the second or third day after RAI administration.Recommendation rating: B

[B16] Can rhTSH (Thyrogen�) be used in lieu of thyroxinewithdrawal for remnant ablation? For most patients, includingthose unable to tolerate hypothyroidism or unable to generatean elevated TSH, remnant ablation can be achieved with

rhTSH (235,236). A prospective randomized study found thatthyroid hormone withdrawal and rhTSH stimulation wereequally effective in preparing patients for 131I remnant abla-tion with 100 mCi with significantly improved quality of life(237). Another randomized study using rhTSH showed thatablation rates were comparable with 50 mCi compared to100 mCi with a significant decrease (33%) in whole-body ir-radiation (238). Finally, a recent study has shown that ablationrates were similar with either withdrawal or preparation withrhTSH using 50 mCi of 131I (239). In addition, short-term re-currence rates have been found to be similar in patients pre-pared with thyroid hormone withdrawal or rhTSH (240).Recombinant human TSH is approved for remnant ablation inthe United States, Europe, and many other countries aroundthe world.

& RECOMMENDATION 34Remnant ablation can be performed following thyroxinewithdrawal or rhTSH stimulation. Recommendation rat-ing: A

[B17] Should RAI scanning be performed before RAI abla-tion? RAI WBS provides information on the presence of io-dine-avid thyroid tissue, which may represent the normalthyroid remnant or the presence of residual disease in thepostoperative setting. In the presence of a large thyroid rem-nant, the scan is dominated by uptake within the remnant,potentially masking the presence of extrathyroidal diseasewithin locoregional lymph nodes, the upper mediastinum, oreven at distant sites, reducing the sensitivity of disease de-tection (241). Furthermore, there is an increasing trend to avoidpretherapy RAI scans altogether because of its low impacton the decision to ablate, and because of concerns over 131I-induced stunning of normal thyroid remnants (242) and dis-tant metastases from thyroid cancer (243). Stunning is definedas a reduction in uptake of the 131I therapy dose induced by apretreatment diagnostic activity. Stunning occurs mostprominently with higher activities (5–10 mCi) of 131I (244),with increasing time between the diagnostic dose and therapy(245), and does not occur if the treatment dose is given within72 hours of the scanning dose (246). However, the accuracy oflow-activity 131I scans has been questioned, and some researchhas reported quantitatively the presence of stunning below thethreshold of visual detection (247). Although comparisonstudies show excellent concordance between 123I and 131I fortumor detection, optimal 123I activity and time to scan after 123Iadministration are not known (248). Furthermore, 123I is ex-pensive, is not universally available, its short half life (t½¼ 13hours) makes handling this isotope logistically more difficult(249), and stunning may also occur though to a lesser degreethan with 131I (245). Furthermore, a recent study showed nodifference in ablation rates between patients that had pre-therapy scans with 123I (81%) compared to those who hadreceived diagnostic scans using 2 mCi of 131I (74%, p> 0.05)(250). Alternatively, determination of the thyroid bed uptake,without scanning, can be achieved using 10–100mCi 131I.

& RECOMMENDATION 35Pretherapy scans and=or measurement of thyroid bed up-take may be useful when the extent of the thyroid remnantcannot be accurately ascertained from the surgical reportor neck ultrasonography, or when the results would alter










DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (18)

ALGORITHM FOR REMNANT ABLATION: Initial Follow-Up in Patients with Differentiated Thyroid

Carcinoma in Whom Remnant Ablation is IndicatedOne to Three Months after Surgery

Uptake Only in Thyroid Bedi

Final Surgery is a Total or Near-Total Thyroidectomy

Completion Thyroidectomy Prior to Ablation

(R29, R30)

Unknown Yes No

Known Residual Macroscopic


US to Assess Remnant

Neck USb, CT scan Serum Tgc

Consider PET Scan Surgery if Feasible

and/or Consider EBRTa (R41)

Consider Pretherapy Diagnostic WBS Using

rhTSH or THWf

if Expected to Change Management (R35)

Suspectedd or Known

Residual Disease

rhTSHe or THWf

30–100 mCi 131Ig

(R32,R36) RxWBSh

5–8 Days Post 131I

rhTSH or THW 100–200 mCi 131I


Uptake Outside

Thyroid Bed

Follow-Up 6–12 Months with TSH-Stimulated

DxWBS, Tg and Neck US

Further Testing and/or

Treatment as Indicated

Yes No

Yes No

FIG. 3. Algorithm for initial follow-up of patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma.aEBRT, external beam radiotherapy. The usual indication for EBRT is macroscopic unresectable tumor in a patient older

than 45 years; it is not usually recommended for children and adults less than age 45.bNeck ultrasonography of operated cervical compartments is often compromised for several months after surgery.cTg, thyroglobulin with anti-thyroglobulin antibody measurement; serum Tg is usually measured by immunometric assay

and may be falsely elevated for several weeks by injury from surgery or by heterophile antibodies, although a very highserum Tg level after surgery usually indicates residual disease.

dSome clinicians suspect residual disease when malignant lymph nodes, or tumors with aggressive histologies (as definedin the text) have been resected, or when there is a microscopically positive margin of resection.

erhTSH is recombinant human TSH and is administered as follows: 0.9 mg rhTSH i.m. on two consecutive days, followedby 131I therapy on the third day.

fTHW is levothyroxine and=or triiodothyronine withdrawal.gSee text for exceptions regarding remnant ablation. The smallest amount of 131I necessary to ablate normal thyroid

remnant tissue should be used. DxWBS (diagnostic whole-body scintigraphy) is not usually necessary at this point, but maybe performed if the outcome will change the decision to treat with radioiodine and=or the amount of administered activity.

hRxWBS is posttreatment whole-body scan done 5 to 8 days after therapeutic 131I administration.iUptake in the thyroid bed may indicate normal remnant tissue or residual central neck nodal metastases.


DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (19)

either the decision to treat or the activity of RAI that isadministered. If performed, pretherapy scans should uti-lize 123I (1.5–3 mCi) or low-activity 131I (1–3 mCi), with thetherapeutic activity optimally administered within 72hours of the diagnostic activity. Recommendation rating: C

[B18] What activity of 131I should be used for remnantablation? Successful remnant ablation is usually defined asan absence of visible RAI uptake on a subsequent diagnosticRAI scan or an undetectable stimulated serum Tg. Activitiesbetween 30 and 100 mCi of 131I generally show similar rates ofsuccessful remnant ablation (251–254) and recurrence rates(213). Although there is a trend toward higher ablation rateswith higher activities (255,256), a recent prospective ran-domized study found no significant difference in the remnantablation rate using 30 or 100 mCi of 131I (257). Furthermore,there are data showing that 30 mCi is effective in ablating theremnant with rhTSH preparation (258). In pediatric patients,it is preferable to adjust the ablation activity according to thepatient’s body weight (259) or surface area (260).

& RECOMMENDATION 36The minimum activity (30–100 mCi) necessary to achievesuccessful remnant ablation should be utilized, particularlyfor low-risk patients. Recommendation rating: B

& RECOMMENDATION 37If residual microscopic disease is suspected or documented,or if there is a more aggressive tumor histology (e.g., tallcell, insular, columnar cell carcinoma), then higher activi-ties (100–200 mCi) may be appropriate. Recommendationrating: C

[B19] Is a low-iodine diet necessary before remnantablation? The efficacy of radioactive iodine depends on theradiation dose delivered to the thyroid tissue (261). Low-iodine diets (<50 mg=d of dietary iodine) and simple recom-mendations to avoid iodine contamination have beenrecommended prior to RAI therapy (261–263) to increase theeffective radiation dose. A history of possible iodine exposure(e.g., intravenous contrast, amiodarone use) should besought. Measurement of iodine excretion with a spot urinaryiodine determination may be a useful way to identify patientswhose iodine intake could interfere with RAI remnant abla-tion (263). Information about low-iodine diets can be obtainedat the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association website (www.thyca.org).

& RECOMMENDATION 38A low-iodine diet for 1–2 weeks is recommended for pa-tients undergoing RAI remnant ablation, particularly forthose patients with high iodine intake. Recommendationrating: B

[B20] Should a posttherapy scan be performed followingremnant ablation? Posttherapy whole-body iodine scanningis typically conducted approximately 1 week after RAI ther-apy to visualize metastases. Additional metastatic foci havebeen reported in 10–26% of patients scanned following high-dose RAI treatment compared with the diagnostic scan(264,265). The new abnormal uptake was found most often in

the neck, lungs, and mediastinum, and the newly discovereddisease altered the disease stage in approximately 10% of thepatients, affecting clinical management in 9–15% (264–266).Iodine 131 single photon emission computed tomography(SPECT)=CT fusion imaging may provide superior lesion lo-calization after remnant ablation, but it is still a relatively newimaging modality (267).

& RECOMMENDATION 39A posttherapy scan is recommended following RAI rem-nant ablation. This is typically done 2–10 days after thetherapeutic dose is administered, although published datasupporting this time interval are lacking. Recommendationrating: B

[B21] Postsurgery and RAI therapyearly management of DTC

[B22] What is the role of TSH suppression therapy? DTCexpresses the TSH receptor on the cell membrane and re-sponds to TSH stimulation by increasing the expression ofseveral thyroid specific proteins (Tg, sodium-iodide sym-porter) and by increasing the rates of cell growth (268). Sup-pression of TSH, using supra-physiologic doses of LT4, is usedcommonly to treat patients with thyroid cancer in an effort todecrease the risk of recurrence (127,214,269). A meta-analysissupported the efficacy of TSH suppression therapy in pre-venting major adverse clinical events (RR¼ 0.73; CI¼ 0.60–0.88; p< 0.05) (269).

[B23] What is the appropriate degree of initial TSHsuppression? Retrospective and prospective studies havedemonstrated that TSH suppression to below 0.1 mU=L mayimprove outcomes in high-risk thyroid cancer patients(127,270), though no such evidence of benefit has been docu-mented in low-risk patients. A prospective cohort study (214)of 2936 patients found that overall survival improved signifi-cantly when the TSH was suppressed to undetectable levels inpatients with NTCTCSG stage III or IV disease and suppressedto the subnormal to undetectable range in patients withNTCTCSG stage II disease; however, in the latter group therewas no incremental benefit from suppressing TSH to unde-tectable levels. Suppression of TSH was not beneficial in pa-tients with stage I disease. In another study, there was apositive association between serum TSH levels and the risk forrecurrent disease and cancer-related mortality (271). Adverseeffects of TSH suppression may include the known conse-quences of subclinical thyrotoxicosis, including exacerbation ofangina in patients with ischemic heart disease, increased riskfor atrial fibrillation in older patients (272), and increased risk ofosteoporosis in postmenopausal women (273).

& RECOMMENDATION 40Initial TSH suppression to below 0.1 mU=L is re-commended for high-risk and intermediate-risk thyroidcancer patients, while maintenance of the TSH at or slightlybelow the lower limit of normal (0.1–0.5 mU=L) is appro-priate for low-risk patients. Similar recommendations ap-ply to low-risk patients who have not undergone remnantablation, i.e., serum TSH 0.1–0.5 mU=L. Recommendationrating: B
















DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (20)

[B24] Is there a role for adjunctive external beam irradiationor chemotherapy?

[B25] External beam irradiation. External beam irradiationis used infrequently in the management of thyroid cancerexcept as a palliative treatment for locally advanced, other-wise unresectable disease (274). There are reports of responsesamong patients with locally advanced disease (275,276) andimproved relapse-free and cause-specific survival in patientsover age 60 with extrathyroidal extension but no gross re-sidual disease (277). It remains unknown whether externalbeam radiation might reduce the risk for recurrence in theneck following adequate primary surgery and=or RAI treat-ment in patients with aggressive histologic subtypes (278).

& RECOMMENDATION 41The use of external beam irradiation to treat the primarytumor should be considered in patients over age 45 withgrossly visible extrathyroidal extension at the time of sur-gery and a high likelihood of microscopic residual disease,and for those patients with gross residual tumor in whomfurther surgery or RAI would likely be ineffective. The se-quence of external beam irradiation and RAI therapy de-pends on the volume of gross residual disease and thelikelihood of the tumor being RAI responsive. Re-commendation rating: B

[B26] Chemotherapy. There are no data to support the useof adjunctive chemotherapy in the management of DTC.Doxorubicin may act as a radiation sensitizer in some tumorsof thyroid origin (279), and could be considered for patientswith locally advanced disease undergoing external beam ra-diation.

& RECOMMENDATION 42There is no role for the routine adjunctive use of chemo-therapy in patients with DTC. Recommendation rating: F


[C2] What are the appropriate featuresof long-term management?

Accurate surveillance for possible recurrence in patientsthought to be free of disease is a major goal of long-termfollow-up. Tests with high negative predictive value allowidentification of patients unlikely to experience disease re-currence, so that less aggressive management strategies canbe used that may be more cost effective and safe. Similarly,patients with a higher risk of recurrence are monitored moreaggressively because it is believed that early detection of re-current disease offers the best opportunity for effectivetreatment. A large study (280), found that the residual lifespan in disease-free patients treated with total or near-totalthyroidectomy and 131I for remnant ablation and, in somecases, high dose 131I for residual disease, was similar to that inthe general Dutch population. In contrast, the life expectancyfor patients with persistent disease was reduced to 60% of thatin the general population but varied widely depending upontumor features. Age was not a factor in disease-specific mor-tality when patients were compared with aged matched in-dividuals in the Dutch population. Treatment thus appearssafe and does not shorten life expectancy. Although an in-

creased incidence of second tumors in thyroid cancer patientshas been recognized (157,281) this elevated risk was not foundto be associated with the use of 131I in another study (282), andRAI therapy in low-risk patients did not affect median overallsurvival in another (210). Patients with persistent or recurrentdisease are offered treatment to cure or to delay future mor-bidity or mortality. In the absence of such options, therapies topalliate by substantially reducing tumor burden or prevent-ing tumor growth are utilized, with special attention paid totumors threatening critical structures.

A second goal of long-term follow-up is to monitor thy-roxine suppression or replacement therapy, to avoid under-replacement or overly aggressive therapy (283).

[C3] What is the appropriate methodfor following patients after surgerywith or without remnant ablation?

See Fig. 4 for an algorithm for the first 6–12 months ofmanagement.

[C4] What are the criteria for absence of persistenttumor? In patients who have undergone total or near-totalthyroidectomy and thyroid remnant ablation, disease-freestatus comprises all of the following:

1) no clinical evidence of tumor,2) no imaging evidence of tumor (no uptake outside the

thyroid bed on the initial posttreatment WBS, or, ifuptake outside the thyroid bed had been present, noimaging evidence of tumor on a recent diagnostic scanand neck US), and

3) undetectable serum Tg levels during TSH suppressionand stimulation in the absence of interfering antibodies.

[C5] What is the role of serum Tg assays in the follow up ofDTC? Measurement of serum Tg levels is an importantmodality to monitor patients for residual or recurrent disease.Most laboratories currently use immunometric assays tomeasure serum Tg, and it is important that these assays arecalibrated against the CRM-457 international standard. De-spite improvements in standardization of thyroglobuin as-says, there is still a twofold difference between some assays(149), leading to the recommendation that measurements inindividual patients over time be performed in the same assay.Immunometric assays are prone to interference from Tgautoantibodies, which commonly cause falsely low serumTg measurements. Radioimmunoassays may be less proneto antibody interference, but are not as widely available,and their role in the clinical care of patients is uncertain. Inthe absence of antibody interference, serum Tg has a highdegree of sensitivity and specificity to detect thyroid cancer,especially after total thyroidectomy and remnant ablation,with the highest degrees of sensitivity noted following thyroidhormone withdrawal or stimulation using rhTSH (284). SerumTg measurements obtained during thyroid hormone sup-pression of TSH, and, less commonly during TSH stimula-tion, may fail to identify patients with relatively small amountsof residual tumor (197,285,286). Conversely, even TSH-stimulated Tg measurement may fail to identify patients withclinically significant tumor, due to anti-Tg antibodies or lesscommonly to defective or absent production and secretion of






DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (21)


Tg (R43) and Neck US (R48a) While on T4

US Suspicious for Lymph Nodes or Nodules >5–8 mm

US Negative

Biopsy for Cytology and Tg Wash (R48b/c)

If Negative, Monitor Positive Tg <1a, Tg Ab Neg

rhTSH or THW Tg Stimulation


Tg <1

Tg >2

Tg 1-2

Long-Term Follow-up (R45b and R48a)

See Text

Tg >1 ,b

Tg Ab Neg

Tg <1,Tg Ab Pos

Consider Diagnostic


Follow Tg Abd

and Neck US; Consider Tg RIA

Compartment Dissection (R50)e

Negative WBS or Stimulated

Tg >5–10c

Negative WBS or Stimulated

Tg <5–10

Positive WBS

Consider Neck/Chest CT

Neck MRI or PET/CT


Consider 131I Therapy

(R56, 58, 61, 75)



Tg Rising US Negative

Monitor Tg, Neck US (R77)

Consider Surgery, 131I Therapy, EBRT, Clinical Trial, or Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Therapy (R59b, 78b)

FIG. 4. Longer term follow-up of patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma.aTgAb is anti-thyroglobulin antibody usually measured by immunometric assay.bHeterophile antibodies may be a cause of falsely elevated serum Tg levels (436,437). The use of heterophile blocking tubes

or heterophile blocking reagents have reduced, but not completely eliminated this problem. Tg that rises with TSH stimu-lation and falls with TSH suppression is unlikely to result from heterophile antibodies.

cSee text concerning further information regarding levels of Tg at which therapy should be considered.dTg radioimmunoassay (RIA) may be falsely elevated or suppressed by TgAb. Tg results following TSH stimulation with

rhTSH or thyroid hormone withdrawal are invalidated by TgAb in the serum even when Tg is measured by most RIA tests.TgAb levels often decline to undetectable levels over years following surgery (306). A rising level of TgAb may be an earlyindication of recurrent disease (305).

eSee text for decision regarding surgery versus medical therapy, and surgical approaches to locoregional metastases. FNAconfirmation of malignancy is generally advised. Preoperative chest CT is recommended as distant metastases may changemanagement.


DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (22)

immunoreactive Tg by tumor cells (286). Tg levels should beinterpreted in light of the pretest probability of clinically sig-nificant residual tumor. An aggressive or poorly differentiatedtumor may be present despite low basal or stimulated Tg; incontrast, a minimally elevated stimulated Tg may occur inpatients at low risk for clinically significant morbidity (287).Nevertheless, a single rhTSH-stimulated serum Tg<0.5 ng=mLin the absence of anti-Tg antibody has an approximately98–99.5% likelihood of identifying patients completely free oftumor on follow-up (288,289).

Follow-up of low-risk patients who have undergone totalor near-total thyroidectomy alone without 131I remnant ab-lation or hemithyroidectomy alone may represent a chal-lenge. A cohort of 80 consecutive patients with very low-riskpapillary thyroid microcarcinoma who had undergone near-total thyroidectomy without postoperative RAI treatmentwas studied over 5 years (290). The rhTSH-stimulated serumTg levels were �1 ng=mL in 45 patients (56%) and >1 ng=mLin 35 (44%) patients in whom rhTSH-stimulated Tg levelswere as high as 25 ng=mL. The diagnostic WBS (DxWBS)revealed uptake in the thyroid bed but showed no patho-logical uptake in any patient, and thyroid bed uptake corre-lated with the rhTSH-stimulated serum Tg levels ( p< 0.0001).Neck ultrasonography identified lymph node metastasesin both Tg-positive and Tg-negative patients. The authorsconcluded that for follow-up of this group of patients: 1)WBS was ineffective in detecting metastases; 2) neck ultra-sonography as the main surveillance tool was highly sensitivein detecting node metastases; and 3) detectable rhTSH-stimulated serum Tg levels mainly depended upon the size ofthyroid remnants.

Initial follow-up for low-risk patients (about 85% of post-operative patients) who have undergone total or near-totalthyroidectomy and 131I remnant ablation should be basedmainly on TSH-suppressed Tg and cervical US, followedby TSH-stimulated serum Tg measurements if the TSH-suppressed Tg testing is undetectable (197,285). However, aTg assay with a functional sensitivity of 0.1 ng=mL may re-duce the need to perform TSH-stimulated Tg measurementsduring the initial follow-up of some patients. In one study ofthis assay, a T4-suppressed serum Tg <0.1 ng=mL was onlyrarely (2.5%) associated with an rhTSH-stimulated Tg>2 ng=mL; however, 61.5% of the patients had baseline Tgelevation>0.1 ng=mL, but only one patient was found to haveresidual tumor (291). In another study of the same assay (292),a TSH-suppressed serum Tg level was >0.1 ng=mL in 14% ofpatients, but the false-positive rate was 35% using an rhTSH-stimulated Tg cutoff of >2 ng=mL, raising the possibility ofunnecessary testing and treatment. The only prospectivestudy also documented increased sensitivity of detection ofdisease at the expense of reduced specificity (293).

Approximately 20% of patients who are clinically free ofdisease with serum Tg levels <1 ng=mL during thyroid hor-mone suppression of TSH (285) will have a serum Tg level>2 ng=mL after rhTSH or thyroid hormone withdrawal at 12months after initial therapy with surgery and RAI. In this pa-tient population, one third will have identification of persistentor recurrent disease and of increasing Tg levels, and the othertwo thirds will remain free of clinical disease and will havestable or decreasing stimulated serum Tg levels over time (294).There is good evidence that a Tg cutoff level above 2 ng=mLfollowing rhTSH stimulation is highly sensitive in identifying

patients with persistent tumor (285,295–300). However, theresults of serum Tg measurements made on the same serumspecimen differ among assay methods (149). Therefore, the Tgcutoff may differ significantly among medical centers andlaboratories. Further, the clinical significance of minimallydetectable Tg levels is unclear, especially if only detected fol-lowing TSH stimulation. In these patients, the trend in serumTg over time will typically identify patients with clinicallysignificant residual disease. A rising unstimulated or stimu-lated serum Tg indicates disease that is likely to become clini-cally apparent (294,301).

The presence of anti-Tg antibodies, which occur in ap-proximately 25% of thyroid cancer patients (302) and 10% ofthe general population (303), will falsely lower serum Tg de-terminations in immunometric assays (304). The use of re-covery assays in this setting to detect significant interference iscontroversial (201,304). Serial serum anti-Tg antibody quan-tification using the same methodology may serve as an im-precise surrogate marker of residual normal thyroid tissue ortumor (305, 306).

& RECOMMENDATION 43Serum Tg should be measured every 6–12 months by animmunometric assay that is calibrated against the CRM-457 standard. Ideally, serum Tg should be assessed in thesame laboratory and using the same assay, during follow-up of patients with DTC who have undergone total or neartotal thyroidectomy with or without thyroid remnant ab-lation. Thyroglobulin antibodies should be quantitativelyassessed with every measurement of serum Tg. Recom-mendation rating: A

& RECOMMENDATION 44Periodic serum Tg measurements and neck ultrasonographyshould be considered during follow-up of patients with DTCwho have undergone less than total thyroidectomy, and inpatients who have had a total thyroidectomy but not RAIablation. While specific cutoff levels during TSH suppres-sion or stimulation that optimally distinguish normal re-sidual thyroid tissue from persistent thyroid cancer areunknown, rising Tg values over time are suspicious forgrowing thyroid tissue or cancer. Recommendation rating: B

& RECOMMENDATION 45(a) In low-risk patients who have had remnant ablation and

negative cervical US and undetectable TSH-suppressedTg within the first year after treatment, serum Tg shouldbe measured after thyroxine withdrawal or rhTSH stim-ulation approximately 12 months after the ablation toverify absence of disease. Recommendation rating: A

The timing or necessity of subsequent stimulated testing isuncertain for those found to be free of disease, because there isinfrequent benefit in this patient cohort from repeated TSH-stimulated Tg testing (289).

(b) Low-risk patients who have had remnant abla-tion, negative cervical US, and undetectable TSH-stimulated Tg can be followed primarily with yearlyclinical examination and Tg measurements on thyroidhormone replacement. Recommendation rating: B








DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (23)

[C6] What are the roles of diagnostic whole-body RAI scans,US, and other imaging techniques during follow-up of DTC?

[C7] Diagnostic whole-body RAI scans. There are two mainissues that affect the use of DxWBS during follow-up: stun-ning (described above) and accuracy. A DxWBS is most usefulduring follow-up when there is little or no remaining normalthyroid tissue. Disease not visualized on the DxWBS,regardless of the activity of 131I employed, may occasionallybe visualized on the RxWBS images done after larger, thera-peutic amounts of 131I (285,307–310). Following RAI ablation,when the posttherapy scan does not reveal uptake outside thethyroid bed, subsequent DxWBS have low sensitivity and areusually not necessary in low-risk patients who are clinicallyfree of residual tumor and have an undetectable serum Tglevel on thyroid hormone and negative cervical US(197,285,309,311).

& RECOMMENDATION 46After the first RxWBS performed following RAI remnantablation, low-risk patients with an undetectable Tg onthyroid hormone with negative antithyrogolublin anti-bodies and a negative US do not require routine DxWBSduring follow-up. Recommendation rating: F

& RECOMMENDATION 47DxWBS, either following thyroid hormone withdrawalor rhTSH, 6–12 months after remnant ablation may be ofvalue in the follow-up of patients with high or intermedi-ate risk of persistent disease (see risk stratification systemunder AJCC=UICC TNM staging), but should be donewith 123I or low activity 131I. Recommendation rating: C

[C8] Cervical ultrasonography. Cervical ultrasonography ishighly sensitive in the detection of cervical metastases in pa-tients with DTC (139,290,312). Recent data suggest thatmeasurement of Tg in the needle washout fluid enhances thesensitivity of FNA of cervical nodes that are suspicious on US(313,314). Cervical metastases occasionally may be detectedby neck ultrasonography even when TSH-stimulated serumTg levels remain undetectable (201,296).

& RECOMMENDATION 48(a) Following surgery, cervical US to evaluate the thyroid

bed and central and lateral cervical nodal compartmentsshould be performed at 6–12 months and then periodi-cally, depending on the patient’s risk for recurrent dis-ease and Tg status. Recommendation rating: B

(b) If a positive result would change management, ultra-sonographically suspicious lymph nodes greater than5–8 mm in the smallest diameter should be biopsied forcytology with Tg measurement in the needle washoutfluid. Recommendation rating: A

(c) Suspicious lymph nodes less than 5–8 mm in largest di-ameter may be followed without biopsy with consider-ation for intervention if there is growth or if the nodethreatens vital structures. Recommendation rating: C

[C9] 18FDG-PET scanning. For many years, the primaryclinical application of 18FDG-PET scanning in thyroid cancerwas to localize disease in Tg-positive (>10 ng=mL), RAI scan–negative patients (315). When used for this indication, insur-

ance providers have usually required documentation that thepatient had a follicular derived thyroid cancer with sup-pressed or stimulated Tg >10 ng=mL in the setting of a neg-ative DxWBS. Still, the impact of 18FDG-PET imaging onbiochemical cure, survival, or progression-free survival in thissetting are not well defined.

More recently, publications provide data that support theuse of 18FDG-PET scanning for indications beyond simpledisease localization in Tg-positive, RAI scan–negative pa-tients (315,316).

Current additional clinical uses of 18FDG-PET scanningmay include:

� Initial staging and follow-up of high-risk patients withpoorly differentiated thyroid cancers unlikely to con-centrate RAI in order to identify sites of disease that maybe missed with RAI scanning and conventional imaging.

� Initial staging and follow-up of invasive or metastaticHurthle cell carcinoma.

� As a powerful prognostic tool for identifying whichpatients with known distant metastases are at highestrisk for disease-specific mortality.

� As a selection tool to identify those patients unlikely torespond to additional RAI therapy.

� As a measurement of posttreatment response followingexternal beam irradiation, surgical resection, emboliza-tion, or systemic therapy.

As can be seen from the list of indications above, low-riskpatients are very unlikely to require 18FDG-PET scanning aspart of initial staging or follow-up. Additionally, inflamma-tory lymph nodes, suture granulomas, and increased muscleactivity are common causes of false-positive 18FDG-PETfindings. Therefore, cytologic or histologic confirmation isrequired before one can be certain that an 18FDG-positive le-sion represents metastatic disease.

The sensitivity of 18FDG-PET scanning may be marginallyimproved with TSH stimulation (especially in patients withlow Tg values), but the clinical benefit of identifying theseadditional small foci is yet to be proven (316).

(d) In addition to its proven role in the localization ofdisease in Tg-positive, RAI scan–negative patients,18FDG-PET scanning may be employed 1) as part ofinitial staging in poorly differentiated thyroid cancersand invasive Hurthle cell carcinomas, especially thosewith other evidence of disease on imaging or becauseof elevated serum Tg levels, and 2) as a prognostic toolin patients with metastatic disease to identify thosepatients at highest risk for rapid disease progressionand disease-specific mortality, 3) and as an evaluationof posttreatment response following systemic or localtherapy of metastatic or locally invasive disease. Re-commendation rating: C

[C10] What is the role of thyroxine TSH suppressionduring thyroid hormone therapy in the long-term follow-up ofDTC? A meta-analysis has suggested an association (269)between thyroid hormone suppression therapy and reductionof major adverse clinical events. The appropriate degree ofTSH suppression by LT4 is still unknown, especially in high-risk patients rendered free of disease. One study found that aconstantly suppressed TSH (�0.05 mU=L) was associated with








DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (24)

a longer relapse-free survival than when serum TSH levelswere always 1 mU=L or greater, and that the degree of TSHsuppression was an independent predictor of recurrence inmultivariate analysis (270). Conversely, another large studyfound that disease stage, patient age, and 131I therapy inde-pendently predicted disease progression, but that the degreeof TSH suppression did not (127). A third study showed thatduring LT4 therapy the mean Tg levels were significantlyhigher when TSH levels were normal than when TSH levelswere suppressed (<0.5 mU=L) but only in patients with localor distant relapse (317). A fourth study of 2936 patients foundthat overall survival improved significantly when the TSHwas suppressed to <0.1 mU=L in patients with NTCTCSGstage III or IV disease and to 0.1 to about 0.5 range in patientswith NTCTCSG stage II disease; however, there was no in-cremental benefit from suppressing TSH to undetectable levelsin stage II patients and suppression of TSH was of no benefit inpatients with stage I disease (214). Another recent study foundthat a serum TSH threshold of 2 mU=L differentiated best be-tween patients free of disease and those with relapse or cancer-related mortality (271). No prospective studies have beenperformed examining the risk of recurrence and death fromthyroid cancer associated with varying serum TSH levels,based on the criteria for the absence of tumor at 6–12 monthspostsurgery and RAI ablation outlined above in [C3].

& RECOMMENDATION 49(a) In patients with persistent disease, the serum TSH

should be maintained below 0.1 mU=L indefinitelyin the absence of specific contraindications. Recom-mendation rating: B

(b) In patients who are clinically and biochemically freeof disease but who presented with high risk disease,consideration should be given to maintaining TSH-suppressive therapy to achieve serum TSH levels of0.1–0.5 mU=L for 5–10 years. Recommendation rating: C

(c) In patients free of disease, especially those at low risk forrecurrence, the serum TSH may be kept within the lownormal range (0.3–2 mU=L). Recommendation rating: B

(d) In patients who have not undergone remnant ablationwho are clinically free of disease and have undetect-able suppressed serum Tg and normal neck US, theserum TSH may be allowed to rise to the low normalrange (0.3–2 mU=L). Recommendation rating: C

[C11] What is the most appropriate managementof DTC patients with metastatic disease?

Metastases discovered during follow-up are likely mani-festations of persistent disease that has survived initial treat-ment. Some patients will have a reduction in tumor burdenwith additional treatments that may offer a survival or palli-ative benefit (318–322). The preferred hierarchy of treatmentfor metastatic disease (in order) is surgical excision of locor-egional disease in potentially curable patients, 131I therapy forRAI-avid disease, external beam radiation, watchful waitingwith patients with stable or slowly progressive asymptomaticdisease, and experimental trials, especially for patients withsignificantly progressive macroscopic refractory disease. Ex-perimental trials may be tried before external beam radiationin special circ*mstances, in part because of the morbidity ofexternal beam radiation and its relative lack of efficacy. A

small fraction of patients may benefit from radiofrequencyablation (323), ethanol ablation (324), or chemo-embolization(325). Additionally, surgical therapy in selected incurablepatients is important to prevent complications in targetedareas, such as the central nervous system (CNS) and centralneck compartment. Conversely, watchful waiting may beappropriate for selected patients with stable asymptomaticlocal metastatic disease, and most patients with stableasymptomatic non-CNS distant metastatic disease.

[C12] What is the surgical management of locoregionalmetastases? Surgery is favored for locoregional (i.e., cervicallymph nodes and=or soft tissue tumor in the neck) recurrences,when distant metastases are not present. Approximately onethird to one half of patients may become free of disease in short-term follow-up (288). It is not clear that treatment of locor-egional disease is beneficial in the setting of untreatable distantmetastases, except for possible palliation of symptoms or pre-vention of airway or aerodigestive obstruction. Impalpablemetastatic lymph nodes, visualized on US or other anatomicimaging modality, that have survived initial 131I therapyshould be considered for resection. Conversely, the benefit toremoving asymptomatic small (<5–8 mm) metastatic lymphnodes towards improving gross clinical disease recurrences ordisease-specific survival is unproven. When surgery is elected,most surgeons endorse comprehensive or selective ipsilateralcompartmental dissection of previously unexplored compart-ments with clinically significant persistent or recurrent disease(i.e., lymph nodes >0.8 cm in diameter,) while sparing vitalstructures (e.g., ipsilateral central neck dissection [level VI],selective neck dissection levels II–IV, or modified neck dissec-tion [levels II–V sparing the spinal accessory nerve, the internaljugular vein, and sternocleidomastoid muscle] (326) as op-posed to ‘‘berry picking,’’ limited lymph node resection pro-cedures, or ethanol ablation (324), because microscopic lymphnode metastases are commonly more extensive than wouldappear from imaging studies alone (183,327,328). Conversely,compartmental surgical dissections may not be feasible in thesetting of compartments that have been previously exploreddue to extensive scarring, and only a more limited or targetedlymph node resection may be possible.

& RECOMMENDATION 50(a) Therapeutic comprehensive compartmental lateral

and=or central neck dissection, sparing uninvolvedvital structures, should be performed for patients withpersistent or recurrent disease confined to the neck.Recommendation rating: B

(b) Limited compartmental lateral and=or central com-partmental neck dissection may be a reasonablealternative to more extensive comprehensive dissec-tion for patients with recurrent disease within com-partments having undergone prior comprehensivedissection and=or external beam radiotherapy. Re-commendation rating: C

[C13] What is the surgical management of aerodigestiveinvasion? For tumors that invade the upper aerodigestivetract, surgery combined with additional therapy such as 131Iand=or external beam radiation is generally advised (329,330).Patient outcome is related to complete resection of all gross


DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (25)

disease with the preservation of function, with techniquesranging from shaving tumor off the trachea or esophagus forsuperficial invasion, to more aggressive techniques when thetrachea is more deeply invaded (e.g., direct intraluminal in-vasion) including tracheal resection and anastomosis (331–333)or laryngopharyngoesophagectomy. Patients who are notcurable may undergo less aggressive local treatment in cases ofasphyxia or significant hemoptysis, and as a preliminary stepprior to subsequent radical or palliative treatments (330).

& RECOMMENDATION 51When technically feasible, surgery for aerodigestive invasivedisease is recommended in combination with RAI and=orexternal beam radiotherapy. Recommendation rating: B

[C14] What is the nature of RAI therapy for locoregional ordistant metastatic disease? For regional nodal metastasesdiscovered on DxWBS, RAI may be employed, althoughsurgery is typically used in the presence of bulky disease ordisease amenable to surgery found on anatomic imaging suchas US, CT scanning, or MRI. Radioiodine is also used ad-junctively following surgery for regional nodal disease oraerodigestive invasion if residual RAI avid disease is presentor suspected.

[C15] Dose and methods of administering 131I for locoregionalor metastatic disease. Despite the apparent effectiveness of131I therapy in many patients, the optimal therapeutic activityremains uncertain and controversial (334). There are threeapproaches to 131I therapy: empiric fixed amounts, therapydetermined by the upper bound limit of blood and bodydosimetry, and quantitative tumor dosimetry (335). Dosi-metric methods are often reserved for patients with distantmetastases or unusual situations such as renal insufficiency(336,337) or when therapy with rhTSH stimulation is deemednecessary. Comparison of outcome among these methodsfrom published series is difficult (334). No prospective ran-domized trial to address the optimal therapeutic approachhas been published. Arguments in favor of higher activitiescite a positive relationship between the total 131I uptake pertumor mass and outcome (225), while others have not con-firmed this relationship (338). In the future, the use of 123I or131I with modern SPECT=CT or 124I PET-based dosimetry mayfacilitate whole-body and lesional dosimetry (339,340).

The maximum tolerated radiation absorbed dose (MTRD),commonly defined as 200 rads (cGy) to the blood, is poten-tially exceeded in a significant number of patients undergoingempiric treatment with various amounts of 131I. In one study(341) 1–22% of patients treated with 131I according to dosim-etry calculations would have theoretically exceeded theMTRD had they been empirically treated with 100–300 mCi of131I. Another study (342) found that an empirically adminis-tered 131I activity of 200 mCi would exceed the MTRD in8–15% of patients younger than age 70 and 22–38% of patientsaged 70 years and older. Administering 250 mCi empiricallywould have exceeded the MTRD in 22% of patients youngerthan 70 and 50% of patients 70 and older.

& RECOMMENDATION 52(a) In the treatment of locoregional or metastatic disease,

no recommendation can be made about the superiority

of one method of RAI administration over another(empiric high dose vs. blood and=or body dosimetryvs. lesional dosimetry.) Recommendation rating: I

(b) Empirically administered amounts of 131I exceeding200 mCi that often potentially exceed the maximumtolerable tissue dose should be avoided in patientsover age 70 years. Recommendation rating: A

No randomized trial comparing thyroid hormone with-drawal therapy to rhTSH-mediated therapy for treatment ofmetastatic disease has been reported but there is, despite agrowing body of nonrandomized studies regarding this use(343–352), one small comparative study that showed the radi-ation dose to metastatic foci is lower with rhTSH than thatfollowing withdrawal (353). Many of these case reports andseries report disease stabilization or improvement in somepatients following rhTSH-mediated 131I therapy. The use ofrhTSH does not eliminate and may even increase the possibilityof rapid swelling of metastatic lesions (348,354–356).

& RECOMMENDATION 53There are currently insufficient outcome data to recom-mend rhTSH-mediated therapy for all patients with meta-static disease being treated with 131I. Recommendationrating: D

& RECOMMENDATION 54Recombinant human TSH–mediated therapy may be in-dicated in selected patients with underlying comorbiditiesmaking iatrogenic hypothyroidism potentially risky, inpatients with pituitary disease who are unable to raise theirserum TSH, or in patients in whom a delay in therapymight be deleterious. Such patients should be given thesame or higher activity that would have been given hadthey been prepared with hypothyroidism or a dosime-trically determined activity. Recommendation rating: C

[C16] Use of lithium in 131I therapy. Lithium inhibits io-dine release from the thyroid without impairing iodine up-take, thus enhancing 131I retention in normal thyroid andtumor cells (357). One study (358) found that lithium in-creased the estimated 131I radiation dose in metastatic tumorsan average of more than twofold, but primarily in those tu-mors that rapidly cleared iodine. On the other hand, anothermore recent study was unable to document any clinical ad-vantage of lithium therapy on outcome in patients withmetastatic disease, despite an increase in RAI uptake in tumordeposits (359).

& RECOMMENDATION 55Since there are no outcome data that demonstrate a betteroutcome of patients treated with lithium as an adjunct to131I therapy, the data are insufficient to recommend lithiumtherapy. Recommendation rating: I

[C17] How should distant metastatic disease to variousorgans be treated? The overall approach to treatment ofdistant metastatic thyroid cancer is based upon the followingobservations and oncologic principles:

1. Morbidity and mortality are increased in patients withdistant metastases, but individual prognosis depends


DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (26)

upon factors including histology of the primary tumor,distribution and number of sites of metastasis (e.g.,brain, bone, lung), tumor burden, age at diagnosisof metastases, and 18FDG and RAI avidity (320,351,360–366).

2. Improved survival is associated with responsiveness tosurgery and=or RAI (320,351,360–366).

3. In the absence of demonstrated survival benefit, certaininterventions can provide significant palliation or re-duce morbidity (325,367–369).

4. In the absence of improved survival, palliative benefit,or reduced potential morbidity, the value of empirictherapeutic intervention is significantly limited by thepotential for toxicity.

5. Treatment of a specific metastatic area must be con-sidered in light of the patient’s performance status andother sites of disease; e.g., 5–20% of patients with dis-tant metastases die from progressive cervical disease(366,370).

6. Longitudinal re-evaluation of patient status and con-tinuing re-assessment of potential benefit and risk ofintervention is required.

7. The overall poor outcome of patients with radio-graphically evident or symptomatic metastases that donot respond to RAI, the complexity of multidisciplinarytreatment considerations and the availability of pro-spective clinical trials should encourage the clinician torefer such patients to tertiary centers with particularexpertise.

[C18] Treatment of pulmonary metastases. In the manage-ment of the patient with pulmonary metastases, key criteriafor therapeutic decisions include 1) size of metastatic lesions(macronodular typically detected by chest radiography; mi-cronodular typically detected by CT; lesions beneath the res-olution of CT); 2) avidity for RAI and, if applicable, responseto prior RAI therapy; and 3) stability (or lack thereof ) ofmetastatic lesions. Pulmonary pneumonitis and fibrosis arerare complications of high-dose radioactive iodine treatment.Dosimetry studies with a limit of 80 mCi whole-body reten-tion at 48 hours and 200 cGy to the red bone marrow shouldbe considered in patients with diffuse 131I pulmonary uptake(371). If pulmonary fibrosis is suspected, then appropriateperiodic pulmonary function testing and consultation shouldbe obtained. The presence of pulmonary fibrosis may limit theability to further treat metastatic disease with RAI.

& RECOMMENDATION 56Pulmonary micrometastases should be treated with RAItherapy, and repeated every 6–12 months as long as diseasecontinues to concentrate RAI and respond clinically, be-cause the highest rates of complete remission are reportedin these subgroups (360,365,372,373). Recommendationrating: A

& RECOMMENDATION 57The selection of RAI activity to administer for pulmonarymicrometastases can be empiric (100–200 mCi) or estimatedby dosimetry to limit whole-body retention to 80 mCi at48 hours and 200 cGy to the red bone marrow. Recom-mendation rating: B

Macronodular pulmonary metastases may also be treatedwith RAI if demonstrated to be iodine avid. How many dosesof RAI to give and how often to give it is a decision that mustbe individualized based on the disease response to treatment,the rate of disease progression in between treatments, age ofthe patient, the presence or absence of other metastatic lesions,and the availability of other treatment options includingclinical trials (360,365).

& RECOMMENDATION 58Radioiodine-avid macronodular metastases should be trea-ted with RAI and treatment should be repeated when ob-jective benefit is demonstrated (decrease in the size of thelesions, decreasing Tg), but complete remission is not com-mon and survival remains poor. The selection of RAI activityto administer can be made empirically (100–200 mCi) orestimated by lesional dosimetry or dosimetry to limit whole-body retention to 80 mCi at 48 hours and 200 cGy to the redbone marrow. Recommendation rating: B

[C19] Non–RAI-avid pulmonary disease. Radioiodine is ofno benefit in patients with non–RAI-avid disease. In thesetting of a negative diagnostic RAI scan, micronodularpulmonary metastases may demonstrate a positive post-treatment scan and measurable benefit to RAI therapy,whereas this is unlikely in the setting of macronodular me-tastases. In one study, administration of 200–300 mCi of RAIto 10 patients with pulmonary macrometastases who hadnegative 3 mCi diagnostic scans was associated with a five-fold increase in the median TSH-suppressed Tg, and deathwas reported in several patients within 4 years of treatment(374). Although not specifically limited to pulmonary lesions,patients with increasing volumes of 18FDG-avid disease seenon PET scans were less likely to respond to RAI and morelikely to die during a 3-year follow-up compared with 18FDG-negative patients (375). Another study found that RAI ther-apy of metastatic lesions that were positive on 18FDG-PETscanning was of no benefit (376). In other studies of 18FDG-PET imaging, however, insufficient details exist in patientsknown to have pulmonary metastases to assess the utility ofthis modality to predict treatment response or prognosis(377). A study (378) that retrospectively examined the clinicalcourse of 400 thyroid cancer patients with distant metastaseswho had undergone 18FDG-PET scanning found that al-though age, initial tumor stage, histology, Tg level, RAI up-take, and PET outcomes all correlated with survival byunivariate analysis, only age and PET results were strongpredictors of survival. There were significant inverse rela-tionships between survival and both the glycolytic rate of themost active lesion and the number of 18FDG-avid lesions. Thestudy found tumors that did not concentrate 18FDG had asignificantly better prognosis after a median follow-up ofabout 8 years than did tumors that avidly concentrated18FDG.

Most studies evaluating systemic therapy for metastaticdisease have focused on patients with pulmonary metastases.Traditional cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents, such asdoxorubicin and cisplatin, are generally associated with nomore than 25% partial response rates, complete remission hasbeen rare, and toxicities from these treatments are consider-able (379). Doxorubicin monotherapy, which remains the onlytreatment for metastatic thyroid carcinoma approved by the


DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (27)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is occasionally effectivewhen dosed appropriately (60–75 mg=m2 every 3 weeks)(380–383), but durable responses are uncommon. Most stud-ies of combination chemotherapy show no increased responseover single agent doxorubicin and increased toxicity (384).Some specialists recommend consideration of single agentdoxorubicin or pacl*taxel, or a combination of these agents,based on limited data in anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (385).One recent study evaluated the effect of combination che-motherapy (carboplatinum and epirubicin) under TSH stim-ulation (endogenous or rhTSH) (386), demonstrating anoverall rate of complete and partial response of 37%. Thesedata need to be confirmed prior to consideration for generaluse. Recently published phase II trials suggest that anti-angiogenic therapies may produce partial response rates ofup to 31% and stabilize another 40–50% of patients withprogressive metastatic disease (387–391). Clinical benefitlasting at least 24 weeks was observed in about half ofpatients. The orally available anti-angiogenic tyrosine kinaseinhibitors (axitinib, motesanib, and sorafenib) have numerouscommon side effects, including hypertension, diarrhea,fatigue, skin rashes and erythema, and weight loss, and var-ious drug-specific toxicities have been reported as well. Theseside effects, although often mild and responsive to supportivecare measures, justify suggesting that treatment with theseagents should be limited to specialists experienced in theiruse. Similar results are also being reported with use of suni-tinib, but phase II studies are still ongoing. Serum TSH levelsmay increase with the use of these agents. Serum TSH shouldbe monitored, and the thyroxine dose increased as needed.Multiple other agents are in clinical trials, targeting pathwaysinvolved in angiogenesis, cell cycle regulation, and tumordifferentiation.

If the patient qualifies for a clinical trial, they should con-sider bypassing traditional chemotherapy and moving di-rectly to clinical trials. However, often patients cannotparticipate in clinical trials because of the time and expenserequired, or failure to meet strict eligibility criteria. Mostavailable trials can be found listed at www.clinicaltrials.gov, www.nci.nih.gov, www.centerwatch.com, or www.thyroid.org.

& RECOMMENDATION 59(a) Evidence of benefit of routine treatment of non–RAI-

avid pulmonary metastases is insufficient to recom-mend any specific systemic therapy. For manypatients, metastatic disease is slowly progressive andpatients can often be followed conservatively on TSH-suppressive therapy with minimal evidence of radio-graphic or symptomatic progression. For selectedpatients, however, other treatment options need to beconsidered, such as metastasectomy, endobronchiallaser ablation, or external beam radiation for palliationof symptomatic intrathoracic lesions (e.g., obstructingor bleeding endobronchial masses), and pleural orpericardial drainage for symptomatic effusions. Re-ferral for participation in clinical trials should be con-sidered. Recommendation rating: C

(b) Referral for participation in clinical trials should beconsidered for patients with progressive or symp-tomatic metastatic disease. For those patients who donot participate in clinical trials, treatment with tyrosine

kinase inhibitors should be considered. Recommenda-tion rating: B

[C20] Treatment of bone metastases. In the management ofthe patient with bone metastases, key criteria for therapeuticdecisions include 1) the presence of or the risk for pathologicfracture, particularly in a weight-bearing structure; 2) risk forneurologic compromise from vertebral lesions; 3) presence ofpain; 4) avidity of RAI uptake; and 5) potential significantmarrow exposure from radiation arising from RAI-avid pelvicmetastases.

& RECOMMENDATION 60Complete surgical resection of isolated symptomatic me-tastases has been associated with improved survival andshould be considered, especially in patients <45 years oldwith slowly progressive disease (320,363). Recommenda-tion rating: B

& RECOMMENDATION 61RAI therapy of iodine-avid bone metastases has been as-sociated with improved survival and should be employed(320,365), although RAI is rarely curative. The RAI activityadministered can be given empirically (100–200 mCi) ordetermined by dosimetry (225). Recommendation rating: B

& RECOMMENDATION 62When skeletal metastatic lesions arise in locations whereacute swelling may produce severe pain, fracture, or neu-rologic complications, external radiation and the concom-itant use of glucocorticoids to minimize potential TSH-induced and=or radiation-related tumor expansion shouldbe strongly considered (392). Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 63Painful lesions that cannot be resected can also be treatedby several options individually or in combination, includ-ing RAI, external beam radiotherapy, intra-arterial embo-lization (325,393), radiofrequency ablation (394), periodicpamidronate or zoledronate infusions (with monitoring fordevelopment of possible mandibular osteonecrosis) (369),or verteboplasty or kyphoplasty (395). While many of thesemodalities have been shown to relieve bone pain in cancer,they have not necessarily been reported to have been usedin thyroid cancer patients. Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 64Evidence is insufficient to recommend treatment ofasymptomatic, non–RAI-responsive, stable lesions that donot threaten nearby critical structures. Recommendationrating: I

[C21] Treatment of brain metastases. Brain metastases typ-ically occur in older patients with more advanced disease andare associated with a poor prognosis (351). Surgical resectionand external beam radiotherapy traditionally have been themainstays of therapy (351,396). There are few data showingefficacy of RAI.

& RECOMMENDATION 65Complete surgical resection of CNS metastases shouldbe considered regardless of RAI avidity, because it is


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associated with significantly longer survival. Recommen-dation rating: B

& RECOMMENDATION 66CNS lesions that are not amenable to surgery should beconsidered for external beam irradiation. Optimally, verytargeted approaches (such as radiosurgery) are employedto limit the radiation exposure of the surrounding braintissue. Whole brain and spine irradiation could be consid-ered if multiple metastases are present. Recommendationrating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 67If CNS metastases do concentrate RAI, then RAI could beconsidered. If RAI is being considered, prior external beamradiotherapy and concomitant glucocorticoid therapy arestrongly recommended to minimize the effects of a poten-tial TSH-induced increase in tumor size and the subsequentinflammatory effects of the RAI (392). Recommendationrating: C

[C22] What is the management of complicationsof RAI therapy?

While RAI appears to be a reasonably safe therapy, it isassociated with a cumulative dose-related low risk of early-and late-onset complications such as salivary gland damage,dental caries (397), nasolacrimal duct obstruction (398), andsecondary malignancies (157,281,399,400). Therefore, it isimportant to ensure that the benefits of RAI therapy, espe-cially repeated courses, outweigh the potential risks. There isprobably no dose of RAI that is completely safe nor is thereany maximum cumulative dose that could not be used inselected situations. However, with higher individual andcumulative doses there are increased risks of side effects asdiscussed previously.

For acute transient loss of taste or change in taste and sia-ladentitis, recommended measures to prevent damage to thesalivary glands have included amifostine, hydration, sourcandies, and cholinergic agents (401), but evidence is insuffi-cient to recommend for or against these modalities. One re-cent study suggested sour candy may actually increasesalivary gland damage when given within 1 hour of RAItherapy, as compared to its use until 24 hours posttherapy(402). For chronic salivary gland complications, such as drymouth and dental caries, cholinergic agents may increasesalivary flow (401).

& RECOMMENDATION 68The evidence is insufficient to recommend for or againstthe routine use of preventive measures to prevent salivarygland damage after RAI therapy. Recommendation rating: I

& RECOMMENDATION 69Patients with xerostomia are at increased risk of dentalcaries and should discuss preventive strategies with theirdentists. Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 70Surgical correction should be considered for nasolacrimaloutflow obstruction, which often presents as excessive

tearing (epiphora) but also predisposes to infection. Re-commendation rating: B

[C23] What is the risk of second malignancies and leu-kemia from RAI therapy? Most long-term follow-up studiesvariably report a very low risk of secondary malignancies(bone and soft tissue malignancies, including breast, colo-rectal, kidney, and salivary cancers, and myeloma and leu-kemia) in long-term survivors (157,281). A meta-analysis oftwo large multicenter studies showed that the risk of secondmalignancies was significantly increased at 1.19 (95% CI:1.04–1.36; p< 0.010), relative to thyroid cancer survivors nottreated with RAI (403). The risk of leukemia was also signif-icantly increased in thyroid cancer survivors treated withRAI, with a relative risk of 2.5 (95% CI: 1.13–5.53; p< 0.024)(403). The risk of secondary malignancies is dose related (157),with an excess absolute risk of 14.4 solid cancers and of 0.8leukemias per gigabecquerel of 131I at 10,000 person-years offollow-up. Cumulative 131I activities above 500–600 mCi areassociated with a significant increase in risk. There appears tobe an increased risk of breast cancer in women with thyroidcancer (281,399,404). It is unclear whether this is due toscreening bias, RAI therapy, or other factors. An elevated riskof breast cancer with 131I was not observed in another study(282). The use of laxatives may decrease radiation exposure ofthe bowel, and vigorous oral hydration will reduce exposureof the bladder and gonads (15).

& RECOMMENDATION 71Because there is no evidence demonstrating a benefit ofmore intensive screening, all thyroid cancer patients shouldbe encouraged to seek age-appropriate screenings forcancer according to routine health maintenance recom-mendations. Patients who receive a cumulative 131I activityin excess of 500–600 mCi should be advised that they mayhave a small excess risk of developing leukemia and solidtumors in the future. Recommendation rating: C

[C24] What are other risks to the bone marrow from RAItherapy? Published data indicate that when administeredactivities are selected to remain below 200 cGy to the bonemarrow, minimal transient effects are noted in white bloodcell and platelet counts (371). However, persistent mild dec-rements in white blood cell count and=or platelets are notuncommon in patients who have received multiple RAItherapies. Further, radiation to the bone marrow is impactedby several factors, including renal function.

& RECOMMENDATION 72Patients receiving therapeutic doses of RAI should havebaseline CBC and assessment of renal function. Recom-mendation rating: C

[C25] What are the effects of RAI on gonadal function andin nursing women? Women about to receive radioactiveiodine therapy should first undergo pregnancy testing. Go-nadal tissue is exposed to radiation from RAI in the blood,urine, and feces. Temporary amenorrhea=oligomenorrhealasting 4–10 months occurs in 20–27% of menstruatingwomen after 131I therapy for thyroid cancer. Although thenumbers of patients studied are small, long-term rates of in-


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fertility, miscarriage, and fetal malformation do not appear tobe elevated in women after RAI therapy (405–407). One largeretrospective study suggested that pregnancy should bepostponed for 1 year after therapy because of an increase inmiscarriage rate (408), although this was not confirmed inanother similarly designed study (409). Ovarian damage fromRAI therapy may result in menopause occurring approxi-mately 1 year earlier than the general population, but thisresult was not associated with cumulative dose administeredor the age at which the therapy was given (410). In men, RAItherapy may be associated with a temporary reduction insperm counts and elevated serum follicle-stimulating hor-mone (FSH) levels (411,412). Higher cumulative activities(500–800 mCi) in men are associated with an increased risk ofpersistent elevation of serum FSH levels, but fertility and risksof miscarriage or congenital abnormalities in subsequentpregnancies are not changed with moderate RAI activities(*200 mCi) (413,414). Permanent male infertility is unlikelywith a single ablative activity of RAI, but theoretically therecould be cumulative damage with multiple treatments. It hasbeen suggested that sperm banking be considered in men whomay receive cumulative RAI activities �400 mCi (412). Go-nadal radiation exposure is reduced with good hydration,frequent micturition to empty the bladder, and avoidance ofconstipation (415).

& RECOMMENDATION 73Women receiving RAI therapy should avoid pregnancy for6–12 months. Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 74(a) Radioactive iodine should not be given to nursing

women. Depending on the clinical situation, RAItherapy could be deferred until a time when lactatingwomen have stopped breast-feeding for at least 6–8weeks. Recommendation rating: B

(b) Dopaminergic agents might be useful in decreasingbreast exposure in recently lactating women, althoughcaution should be exercised given the risk of seriousside effects associated with their routine use to sup-press postpartum lactation. Recommendation rating: C

[C26] What is the management of Tg-positive,RAI scan–negative patients?

If the unstimulated Tg is or becomes detectable, or in-creases over time, or if stimulated Tg levels rise to greaterthan 2 ng=mL, imaging of the neck and chest should beperformed to search for metastatic disease, typically withneck US and with thin cut (5–7 mm) helical chest CT. Iodi-nated contrast should be avoided if RAI therapy is plannedwithin the subsequent few months, although intravenouscontrast may aid in identification of cervical and mediastinaldisease. In addition, for patients with a prior history ofmetastatic cervical lymph nodes in the anterior compart-ments, cross-sectional imaging with either neck CT or MRIshould be considered to evaluate the retropharyngeal lymphnodes that cannot be imaged by sonography. If imaging isnegative for disease that is potentially curable by surgery, orthe serum Tg appears out of proportion to the identifiedsurgically resectable disease, then whole-body 18FDG-PETimaging may be obtained if the stimulated serum Tg is

>10 ng=mL. If the 18FDG PET scan is negative, then empirictherapy with RAI (100–200 mCi) should be considered to aidlocalization or for therapy of surgically incurable disease(Fig. 5). This approach may identify the location of persistentdisease in approximately 50% of patients (307,416) with awide range of reported success. Some investigators havereported a fall in serum Tg after empiric RAI therapy inpatients with negative DxWBS (417,418), but there is no ev-idence for improved survival with empiric therapy in thissetting (374,418). On the other hand, Tg levels may declinewithout specific therapy during the first years of follow-up(418).

When the RxWBS after empiric 131I therapy is negative,18FDG-PET scanning is indicated if not already obtained. In-tegrated 18FDG-PET=CT is able to improve diagnostic accu-racy of 18FDG-PET in patients with iodine-negative tumors. Ina study of 40 such patients, in whom PET and CT images werescored blindly, the diagnostic accuracy was 93% for inte-grated 18FDG-PET=CT and 78% for PET alone ( p< 0.5) (419).In 74% of the patients with suspicious 18FDG foci, integrated18FDG-PET=CT added relevant information to the side-by-side interpretation of PET and CT images by precisely local-izing the lesions. 18FDG-PET=CT fusion studies led to achange of therapy in 48% of the patients. In another study,18FDG-PET=CT changed the clinical management of 44% of 61patients, including surgery, radiation therapy, or chemo-therapy (420). The rate of PET scan positivity is low (11–13%)in patients with stimulated Tg levels <10 ng=mL (421,422).Some have argued that 18FDG-PET scanning should be per-formed prior to empiric RAI therapy (423), since tumors thatare 18FDG-PET positive do not generally concentrate RAI(376), and RAI therapy is unlikely to alter the poorer outcomein such patients (378).

A cutoff value of Tg above which a patient should betreated with an empiric dose of RAI is difficult to determine,due in part to the wide variation in available Tg assays (in-cluding those used in reports suggesting benefit of suchtherapy) and the differences in Tg levels based on method anddegree of TSH stimulation or suppression. Recent studieshave reported primarily on patients with Tg levels after T4

withdrawal of 10 ng=mL or higher, and it has been suggestedthat a corresponding level after rhTSH stimulation would be5 ng=mL (308,374,416,418,424). A Tg level that is rising maywarrant greater concern for the need for empiric therapy, al-though data regarding the appropriate rate of change areminimal (301). However a detectable but low Tg level at 9–12months following remnant ablation may not warrant furthertherapy.

& RECOMMENDATION 75Empiric radioactive iodine therapy (100–200 mCi) might beconsidered in patients with elevated (Tg levels after T4

withdrawal of 10 ng=mL or higher, or a level of 5 ng=mL orhigher after rhTSH stimulation) or rising serum Tg levels inwhom imaging has failed to reveal a potential tumor source.If the posttherapy scan is negative, no further RAI therapyshould be administered. Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 76If persistent nonresectable disease is localized after anempiric dose of RAI, and there is objective evidence of


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Declining Serum Tg or Tg <1 with Declining

TgAb Present

History of Poor Response to RAI


Bulky Tumor Present

Grade 3 Blood/Bone Marrow Compromisec


Do Not Treat with131-Iodine

Consider Surgery/EBRT/Clinical Trials

Patient Unable to Raise TSH or Tolerate THW

History of CT Contrast in Past 3–4 Months or of Other Iodine Contamination

Spot Urinary Iodine

Preparation with rhTSH

Consider 131I Therapy with 100 to 150 mCi

1–2 Week Low- Iodine Diet



5–8 Day Post Rx WBS Result Negative


Continue 131I if Beneficiald

False Elevation in Serum Tg or Evidence of

Heterophile Antibody Interference Present b

Empiric 131I Therapy Under Consideration: Evaluate History of Prior Therapy, Response to Therapy, Confounding Factors, and Current Staging of Patient as Assessed by Physical Examination, Laboratory Tests, and Imaging Studiesa

131I Therapy with 100 to 150 mCi when TSH >30 or after rhTSH e

18FDG-PET/CT if Not Done

FIG. 5. Considerations for empiric treatment with radioiodine.aEmpiric 131I therapy should be done with meticulous patient preparation, including low-iodine diet and, if iodine con-

tamination is a possibility, urinary iodine measurements. If the RxWBS is negative or subsequent follow-up studies show notherapeutic benefit, further empiric 131I should not be administered.

bTg that rises with TSH stimulation and falls with TSH suppression is unlikely to result from heterophile antibodies.cNational Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events, Version 3.0, (http:==ctep.cancer.gov).dDosimetry could be considered to allow administration of maximum radioiodine activity if the tumor is life-threatening.eA dose of 200 mCi could exceed the maximum tolerable dose in older individuals (see Recommendation 52b).


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significant tumor reduction, then RAI therapy should berepeated until the tumor has been eradicated or the tumorno longer responds to treatment. The risk of repeatedtherapeutic doses of RAI must be balanced against uncer-tain long-term benefits. Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 77In the absence of structurally evident disease, stimulatedserum Tg<10 ng=mL with thyroid hormone withdrawal or<5 ng=mL with rhTSH can be followed with continued LT4

therapy alone, reserving additional therapies for thosepatients with rising serum Tg levels over time or otherevidence of structural disease progression. Recommenda-tion rating: C

[C27] What is the management of patients with a negativeRxWBS?

& RECOMMENDATION 78(a) If an empiric dose (100–200 mCi) of RAI fails to localize

the persistent disease, 18FDG-PET=CT scanning shouldbe considered, especially in patients with unstimulatedserum Tg levels >10–20 ng=mL or in those with ag-gressive histologies, in order to localize metastatic le-sions that may require treatment or continued closeobservation (425,426). Recommendation rating: B

Stimulation with endogenous TSH following thyroxinewithdrawal or rhTSH (316) and CT fusion (427) may mini-mally enhance the sensitivity and specificity of 18FDG-PETscanning.

(b) Tg-positive, RxWBS-negative patients with diseasethat is incurable with surgery and is structurally evi-dent or visualized on 18FDG-PET=CT scan can bemanaged with thyroid hormone suppression therapy,external beam radiotherapy, chemotherapy, radio-frequency ablation, chemo-embolization, or monitor-ing without additional therapy if stable. Clinical trialsshould also be considered. Recommendation rating: C

& RECOMMENDATION 79Tg-positive, RxWBS-negative patients with no structuralevidence of disease can be followed with serial structuralimaging studies and serial Tg measurements, with bothperformed more frequently if the Tg level is rising. Whenand how often to repeat 18FDG-PET=CT imaging in thissetting is less certain. Recommendation rating: C

[C28] What is the role of external beam radiotherapyin treatment of metastatic disease?

& RECOMMENDATION 80External beam radiation should be used in the managementof unresectable gross residual or recurrent cervical disease,painful bone metastases, or metastatic lesions in criticallocations likely to result in fracture, neurological, or com-pressive symptoms that are not amenable to surgery (e.g.,vertebral metastases, CNS metastases, selected mediastinalor subcarinal lymph nodes, pelvic metastases) (277). Re-commendation rating: B


[D2] Novel therapies and clinical trials

While surgery and the judicious use of RAI, as described inthese guidelines, is sufficient treatment for the majority ofpatients with DTC, a minority of these patients experienceprogressive, life-threatening growth and metastatic spread ofthe disease. The recent explosion of knowledge regarding themolecular and cellular pathogenesis of cancer has led to thedevelopment of a range of targeted therapies, now undergoingclinical evaluation. Efficacy has already been demonstrated forseveral agents in phase II studies, including axitinib, motesanib,sorafenib, pazopanib, and thalidomide, whereas many othersare in ongoing trials. Randomized phase III trials to demon-strate improved survival, improved progression free survival,or superiority of one therapy over another have not been per-formed, however, and none of these drugs have been specifi-cally approved for treatment of metastatic thyroid carcinoma.These therapies can be grouped into a number of categories.

[D3] Inhibitors of oncogenic signaling pathways. Tyrosinekinase inhibitors of interest in thyroid carcinoma usually targettransmembrane tyrosine kinase receptors that initiate signal-ing through the MAP kinase pathway. This signaling pathwayis activated in the majority of PTCs. Inhibitors of RET, RAS,RAF, and MEK kinases target various members of the samesignaling pathway. Several of these agents are in developmentwith several clinical trials completed or underway. Specificoncogene targeting for follicular thyroid cancer and Hurthle cellcancer awaits better understanding of the pathways involvedin initiation of these tumor types, although responses in pa-tients with these subtypes have been reported in clinical trials.

[D4] Modulators of growth or apoptosis. Key componentsof growth and apoptotic pathways are targeted by PPARgactivators, including COX2 inhibitors; rexinoids, which acti-vate RXR; bortezomib, which inactivates the cancer pro-teasome; and derivatives of geldanomycin, which target thehsp-90 protein. Clinical trials in thyroid cancer of each of theseagents are available.

[D5] Angiogenesis inhibitors. Targeting of vascular en-dothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors and other membersof the signaling cascades responsible for neoangiogenesis maylimit the growth of cancers by restricting their blood supply.Many of the kinase inhibitors that have been studied to dateare very potent inhibitors of the tyrosine kinase of the VEGFreceptors. Trials of several of these agents are currently un-derway in all subtypes of thyroid cancer.

[D6] Immunomodulators. Stimulation of the immune re-sponse to cancer may be achieved by augmenting the activityof antigen-presenting dendritic cells. This approach hasshown possible benefits in phase I clinical trials, but has notyet been studied in thyroid cancer. The apparent immuno-genicity of thyroid cells makes this an attractive approach forfuture clinical trials.

[D7] Gene therapy. Preclinical studies have demon-strated some efficacy in thyroid cancer cell lines. Approachesinclude introducing toxic genes under the control of thyroid-specific promoters, or restoration of the p53 tumor suppressor


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gene in anaplastic thyroid cancer cell lines. Problems withgene delivery limit the clinical utility of these approaches,which have not yet reached clinical trials in thyroid cancer.

Each of these targeted approaches holds promise for ourfuture ability to treat patients with life-threatening diseaseunresponsive to traditional therapy. In the meantime, forappropriate patients, entry into one of the available clinicaltrials may be an attractive option.

[D8] Better understanding of the long-term risks of RAI

With the more widespread use of RAI in the managementof thyroid cancer, and the normal life expectancy of mostpatients with the disease, it is imperative that we have a betterunderstanding of the long-term risks associated with its use.Research that focuses on how to minimize the impact of RAIon the salivary glands in order to prevent sialadenitis andxerostomia would provide a significant benefit to patients. Abetter understanding of the long-term effects of RAI on re-productive issues in men and women is also an importanttopic. Finally, while the risk of second malignancies appearssmall following the usual activities of RAI used for remnantablation, we need better understanding of the long-term risksfor salivary gland tumors, bladder tumors, and colon cancerswhen repeated doses of RAI are needed in young patientswho are potentially long-term survivors of thyroid cancer.

[D9] Clinical significance of persistent lowlevels of serum Tg

After initial surgery and RAI therapy some patients willhave persistently detectable stimulated serum Tg when eval-uated 9–12 months later. Most of these patients have stimu-lated Tg levels in the range of 1–10 ng=mL, levels typicallyassociated with a small volume of tissue. Some of these patientsdemonstrate a subsequent spontaneous fall in Tg over time,others remain stable, while still others demonstrate rising Tglevels. The optimal management of these patients is unknown.How often should they undergo neck US or stimulated serumTg testing? Will sensitive Tg assays combined with neck USreplace stimulation testing? Which (if any) of these patientsshould undergo chest CT, PET, or empiric RAI therapy? Canwe improve our abilities to predict and monitor which patientsare likely to be harmed by their disease as opposed to thosewho will live unaffected by theirs? Does metastatic disease insmall local lymph nodes have the potential to metastasize todistant sites during observation while on TSH suppressiontherapy? The current impetus to test and treat all of these pa-tients is based on the argument that early diagnosis may lead toearly treatment of residual disease when treatment is morelikely to be effective, as opposed to less effective treatmentwhen the tumor is more bulky, more extensive, or has spread toinoperable locations. However, there is no current proof thataggressive treatment of minimal residual disease improvespatient outcome. This is brought into focus by the fact that onlyabout 5% of all PTC patients die of their disease, yet 15–20% oflow-risk PTC patients are likely to have persistent diseasebased on persistent measurable Tg with stimulation testing.

[D10] The problem of Tg antibodies

Anti-Tg antibodies are a common clinical problem inpatients with DTC (305). The presence of these antibodies

usually interferes with serum Tg measurement and recoveryassays do not appear to accurately predict this interference(305,428). Decreasing antibody levels are correlated with‘‘disease-free’’ status while increasing levels suggest persistentdisease (306,429). However, there are clear exceptions to this‘‘rule.’’ These patients are therefore a challenge to manage orstudy because one often can not be certain of their diseasestatus. This problem limits definitive investigation which, inturn, hampers development of evidence-based guidelinessuch as these to assist clinicians. Measurement of Tg mRNA inthe blood may be a sensitive marker for persistent thyroidcells even in the presence of anti-Tg antibodies (430–432), butRNA extraction is not well standardized and some studiesquestion the specificity of this marker (433,434). Futurestudies optimizing the measurement of Tg mRNA and per-haps other thyroid-related substances in blood from DTCpatients with anti-Tg antibodies are needed to better monitorthis challenging subgroup of DTC patients. This goal wouldalso be enhanced by development of Tg assays that havelimited interference by anti-Tg antibodies and by methods toclear anti-Tg antibodies prior to Tg measurement.

[D11] Small cervical lymph node metastases

The rates of cervical lymph node metastases generally rangefrom about 20% to 50% in most large series of DTC, with higherrates in children or when micrometastases are considered. Thelocation and number of lymph node metastases is often diffi-cult to identify before, during, or after surgery, especially mi-crometastases. Although postoperative 131I given to ablate thethyroid remnant undoubtedly destroys some micrometastases,the most common site of recurrence is in cervical lymph nodes,which comprise the majority of all recurrences. Future researchmust consider the dilemma of minimizing iatrogenic patientharm versus preventing cancer morbidity and (perhaps) mor-tality. Perhaps techniques will be developed to safely removeor destroy small cervical nodal metastases, which in some caseswould otherwise progress to overt, clinically significant me-tastases. Conversely, the clinical significance of very small(<0.5 cm) nodal metastases needs to be clarified by long-termfollow-up studies. Development of a cost-effective method todetermine which metastases can be safely followed withoutintervention would be of great benefit.

[D12] Improved risk stratification

Current risk stratification schemes rely almost exclusivelyon clinical, pathological, and radiological data obtained dur-ing the initial evaluation and therapy of the patient. However,none of the commonly used risk stratification schemes ade-quately incorporate the prognostic implications of the verydetailed pathological descriptions that are provided (e.g.,various histological subtypes of thyroid cancer, frequent mi-toses, areas of tumor necrosis, minor degrees of extrathyroidalextension, or capsular invasion) or the molecular character-istics of the primary tumor. Furthermore, current stagingsystems are static representations of the patient at the time ofpresentation and are not easily modifiable over time as newdata become available during follow-up. Therefore, a riskstratification system that incorporates all the important in-formation available at presentation and also evolves over timeas new data become available would be useful in providing


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ongoing risk assessments that would optimize managementthroughout the life of the patient.


The taskforce wishes to thank Ms. Bobbi Smith, ExecutiveDirector, American Thyroid Association, and Ms. SheriSlaughter, Assistant to the Taskforce, for their constant helpand support. We also wish to thank Sally Carty, M.D., Quan-Yang Duh, M.D., Gregory Randolph, M.D., David Steward,M.D., David Terris, M.D., Ralph Tufano, M.D., and RobertUdelsman, M.D., for their help in developing recommenda-tions related to central neck dissection.


It is our goal in formulating these guidelines, and the ATA’sgoal in providing support for the development of theseguidelines, that they assist in the clinical care of patients, andshare what we believe is current, rational, and optimal med-ical practice. In some circ*mstances, it may be apparent thatthe level of care recommended may be best provided in lim-ited centers with specific expertise. Finally, it is not the intentof these guidelines to replace individual decision making, thewishes of the patient or family, or clinical judgment.

Disclosure Statement

These guidelines were funded by the American ThyroidAssociation without support from any commercial sources.

GMD is a consultant for MedTronic ENT. BRH has receivedhonoraria from Genzyme and grant=research support fromVeracyte. RTK has received grant=research support fromGenzyme, Bayer-Onyx, Eisai, and Veracyte; is a consultant forGenzyme, Bayer-Onyx, Abbott, and Veracyte; and is on theSpeakers Bureau for Genzyme and Abbott. He has received nohonoraria for commercial speaking since November 2006 andall commercial consulting since that time has been approved bythe ATA Board of Directors, the ATA Ethics Committee, andhas been without financial compensation. SLL has receivedgrant=research support from Bayer and is a consultant forAbbott, Onyx, and Bayer. SJM has received grant=researchsupport from Veracyte and has been a CME speaker for Gen-zyme. ELM is on the Speakers Bureau for Genzyme. FP hasreceived grant=research support from Amgen, Exelixis, andAstraZeneca and is a consultant and on the Speakers Bureaufor Genzyme. MS has received grant=research support fromGenzyme, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Exelixis, and Eisai; is aconsultant for Genzyme, AstraZeneca, Bayer, and Exelixis; andis on the Speakers Bureau for Genzyme, AstraZeneca, andExelixis. SIS has received grant=research support from Gen-zyme, Amgen, AstraZeneca, and Eisai; is a consultant forAstraZeneca, Eisai, Exelixis, Plexxikon, Oxigene, Semalore,Celgene, and Eli Lily; is on the Speakers Bureau for Genzyme;and has received honoraria from Abbott. DLS has receivedgrant=research support from Veracyte, Wyeth, Astra-Zeneca,and Gyrus. RMT is a consultant for Genzyme, Abbott, and EliLily, and has received honoraria from Genzyme and Abbott.DSC and BM report that no competing financial interests exist.


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Address correspondence to:David S. Cooper, M.D.

Division of EndocrinologyThe Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

1830 East Monument Street Suite 333Baltimore, MD 21287

E-mail: [emailprotected]


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36. Marina N. Nikiforova , Yuri E. Nikiforov . 2009. Molecular Diagnostics and Predictors in Thyroid CancerMolecular Diagnosticsand Predictors in Thyroid Cancer. Thyroid 19:12, 1351-1361. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

37. Martin Schlumberger , Steven I. Sherman . 2009. Clinical Trials for Progressive Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: Patient Selection,Study Design, and Recent AdvancesClinical Trials for Progressive Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: Patient Selection, Study Design,and Recent Advances. Thyroid 19:12, 1393-1400. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (51)

38. Douglas Van Nostrand . 2009. The Benefits and Risks of I-131 Therapy in Patients with Well-Differentiated Thyroid CancerTheBenefits and Risks of I-131 Therapy in Patients with Well-Differentiated Thyroid Cancer. Thyroid 19:12, 1381-1391. [Abstract][Full Text] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

39. Rebecca S. Sippel , Herbert Chen . 2009. Controversies in the Surgical Management of Newly Diagnosed and Recurrent/ResidualThyroid CancerControversies in the Surgical Management of Newly Diagnosed and Recurrent/Residual Thyroid Cancer. Thyroid19:12, 1373-1380. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

40. Caroline S. Kim , Xuguang Zhu . 2009. Lessons from Mouse Models of Thyroid CancerLessons from Mouse Models of ThyroidCancer. Thyroid 19:12, 1317-1331. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

41. Charles H. Emerson . 2009. Guidelines for Guidelines: Content, Accountability, Peer Review, and Intellectual OwnershipGuidelinesfor Guidelines: Content, Accountability, Peer Review, and Intellectual Ownership. Thyroid 19:11, 1137-1138. [Citation] [FullText] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

42. Leonard Wartofsky . 2009. Highlights of the American Thyroid Association Guidelines for Patients with Thyroid Nodules orDifferentiated Thyroid Carcinoma: The 2009 RevisionHighlights of the American Thyroid Association Guidelines for Patientswith Thyroid Nodules or Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma: The 2009 Revision. Thyroid 19:11, 1139-1143. [Citation] [FullText] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

43. Efisio Puxeddu , Sebastiano Filetti . 2009. The 2009 American Thyroid Association Guidelines for Management of ThyroidNodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: Progress on the Road from Consensus- to Evidence-Based PracticeThe 2009American Thyroid Association Guidelines for Management of Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: Progress onthe Road from Consensus- to Evidence-Based Practice. Thyroid 19:11, 1145-1147. [Citation] [Full Text] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

44. Sally E. Carty , David S. Cooper , Gerard M. Doherty , Quan-Yang Duh , Richard T. Kloos , Susan J. Mandel , GregoryW. Randolph , Brendan C. Stack , Jr. , David L. Steward , David J. Terris , Geoffrey B. Thompson , Ralph P. Tufano ,R. Michael Tuttle , Robert Udelsman . 2009. Consensus Statement on the Terminology and Classification of Central NeckDissection for Thyroid CancerThe American Thyroid Association Surgery Working Group with Participation from the AmericanAssociation of Endocrine Surgeons, American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, and American Head andNeck SocietyConsensus Statement on the Terminology and Classification of Central Neck Dissection for Thyroid Cancer. Thyroid19:11, 1153-1158. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] [PDF Plus]

45. Martha A. Zeiger. 2009. Evolution in the surgical management of well-differentiated thyroid cancer or not: To dissect or notdissect the central lymph node compartment. Journal of Surgical Oncology n/a-n/a. [CrossRef]

DTC Guidelines - [PDF Document] (2024)
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