Primary thyroid carcinoma in children: A retrospective study of 20 patients

M. Massimino, M. Gasparini, E. Ballerini, R. Del Bo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A total of 20 children (median age 11 years) were treated for primary thyroid carcinoma from 1976 to 1990. Papillary adenocarcinoma was diagnosed in 19 and follicular in one case. Nineteen of 20 patients were considered amenable to surgery, which consisted of total thyroidectomy in 14 and partial thyroidectomy in 5. Only one patient with extensive perithyroid soft tissue infiltration was treated with external beam radiotherapy. Monolateral or bilateral cervical nodal dissection was performed in eight and six children, respectively; in nine cases without clinical evidence of metastatic nodes. Pathological examination showed that tumor extent was greater than that clinically assessed: Multiple tumor foci within the thyroid were assessed in 8/19, unilateral positive nodes in 8, and bilateral in 6, and soft tissue infiltration in 7. Subsequently 10 patients received thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) suppressive hormonotherapy. Relapses occurred in 7/20 at 2-48 months (median 18) from primary treatment: Four in cervical nodes, two in cervical nodes and lungs, and one in lungs. These seven patients were salvaged with node dissection and radioiodine therapy for lung metastases. All the 20 children are alive and disease-free after a median follow-up of longer than 10 years. The incidence of relapse was greater in the group of patients not given TSH-suppressive hormonotherapy. Total thyroidectomy produced permanent hypoparathyroidism in 5/14 (36%). Thyroid carcinoma in children of this series frequently presented with multiple tumor foci within the thyroid and cervical node metastases. Prognosis was favourable even after relapse and was not related to the extent of surgical treatment. Limited surgery and suppressive hormonotherapy may be adequate therapy for thyroid carcinoma in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
JournalMedical and Pediatric Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • follicular carcinoma
  • hormonotherapy
  • papillary adenocarcinoma
  • thyroid carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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