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What is a Low Risk Thyroid Cancer, and Do I Need Radiation?

Posted Jun 24 2009 2:05pm
How do I know if I am very, low risk?
If you are <45 years old,
Get your pathology report from your surgery.
Look for these itemsVery Low Risk is a patient has a single < 1 cm cancer nodule.
No lymph node mets.
The cell type is not an aggressive type, such as Tall Cell.
There is no extension beyond the capsule of the thyroid gland.
Then there is no family history of thyroid cancer, and no radiation exposure.

What needs to be done to treat you?
You will only need lobectomy, as there is no benefit from total thyroidectomy.
Also there is no benefit from Radioiodine ablation therapy with any dose.
Death 0% Recurrence by 20 years 8%

How do I know if I am low risk?
If you are <45 years old.

Again get the pathology report.
Papillary Ca 1-4 cm without nodes or distant spread.
No local invasion outside of the thyroid gland.

Follicular CA <2 cm

Minimal capsule invasion, but no vascular invasion.
What needs to be done if I am low risk?
Total thyroidectomy is definitely needed.
Radioiodine therapy is controversial.
May be only on a select few rather than knee jerk use in everyone.
Careful discussion with a thyroidologist before you accept the radiation therapy.

<40 years old Death 0%
<40 years old <3 cm RAI Dubious

Remnant Ablation with RAI/131?
All high risk patients, but not all very low, or most of the young low risk patients.

Stage I Age <45 Size <2cm No LN NO Radiation Ablation Needed
Stage II Age >45 Size >2 cm + LN rhTSH Stimulated Remnant ablation


Good Luck,

Dr.G.
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