Trends and Outcomes of Surgical Management of Primary Papillary Carcinoma in the Pediatric Population

Published:March 06, 2021DOI:



      Childhood papillary thyroid cancer is more aggressive than carcinomas in adults. Current American Thyroid Association pediatric guidelines recommend a total or near-total thyroidectomy for all pediatric patients without gross evidence of lymph node metastases. Our objective is to analyze trends in the surgical management of pediatric papillary thyroid cancer and assess how well the guidelines are implemented.


      A retrospective cohort study of pediatric patients (ages 19 y and under) who underwent a thyroidectomy was conducted using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database 2006-2017. Procedure type was classified as lobectomy or less and subtotal or total thyroidectomy. Descriptive statistics to illustrate patient and tumor characteristics as well as chi-square analysis to evaluate frequency of treatment with total thyroidectomies versus lobectomy or less were performed. Logistic regression analysis controlling for age, sex, size of tumor, rural versus urban institutions, and surgery year was conducted to identify factors predictive of procedure type.


      A total of 2271 children underwent surgical management of papillary thyroid cancer between 2006 and 2017. Most patients received a subtotal or total thyroidectomy as surgical management (n = 2,085, 91.8%). One hundred eighty-six patients (8.2%) received a lobectomy or less. The number of lobectomies or less increased with time, with 41 (6.6%) patients between 2006 and 2009, 98 (8.0%) between 2009 and 2015, and 47 (11.1%) between 2016 and 2017 (P = 0.03). Mortality rates were low (n = 15, 0.7%). On logistic regression analysis, later stages, larger sizes, and earlier operative years were predictive of a near-total or total thyroidectomy.


      Despite the American Thyroid Association Guidelines recommending a total thyroidectomy for pediatric well-differentiated thyroid cancer, the results of this study demonstrate that thyroid lobectomies are being performed in increasing frequency for smaller tumors in earlier stages of disease. Further investigation of whether this trend actually affects the outcomes in this patient cohort is needed.


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