Are the characteristics of thyroid cancer different in young patients?

Aybala Agac Ay, Suat Kutun and Abdullah Çetin


Background: Thyroid carcinoma in pediatric patients continues to be a rare albeit significant condition because local recurrence or distant metastases may be revealed during its diagnosis, or even years after completion of treatment.

Methods: This study was prepared by retrospective analysis of patient files to focus on the clinical presentation of thyroid carcinoma in pediatric patients, and proposes to investigate the clinical parameters that differ from, or that correspond to, those in adult patients.

Subjects: A total of 108 patients, of whom 22 were children and adolescents and 86 were adults, and who were operated on for differentiated thyroid carcinoma during the period 2001–2009, were included in the study.

Results: The rate of large thyroid, multinodular goiter, or tumor >1 cm was significantly higher in the adult group than in the pediatric group. Our analysis also revealed that that the frequency of lymph node metastasis was significantly higher in the pediatric group than in the adult group. Moreover, the frequencies of total lymph node and positive lymph node presentations were significantly higher in the pediatric group than in the adult group.

Conclusion: Although thyroid carcinoma has a good prognosis in young patients, one must stress that late diagnosis and ineffective treatment are the main criteria for poor prognosis and, most important, that it is advisable to keep the management of thyroid carcinoma on a path that differs from the management of adult thyroid carcinomas, in nearly all aspects from presentation to treatment.

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The Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism (JPEM) is the only international journal dedicated exclusively to endocrinology in the neonatal, pediatric and adolescent age groups, and publishes the results of clinical investigations in pediatric endocrinology and basic research. JPEM publishes Review Articles, Original Research, Case Reports, Short Communications and Letters to the Editor.