Thyroid cancer in the thyroid nodules evaluated by ultrasonography and fine-needle aspiration cytology.

Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Thyroid (Impact Factor: 3.84). 08/2005; 15(7):708-17. DOI: 10.1089/thy.2005.15.708
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Thyroid nodule is common disorder in endocrine clinics. In Taiwan, thyroid ultrasonography with fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is the first-line examination procedure. Data in large series on the incidence of thyroid malignancy presenting with thyroid nodules are lacking in this area. To determine the incidence of malignancy in thyroid nodules and compare the results with other populations, this investigation retrospectively reviewed 21,748 subjects who were examined in one medical center from January 1986 to December 1999. All patients underwent thyroid ultrasonography studies using a real-time ultrasonographic machine and a 10-MHz transducer. Fine-needle aspirations were made in the suspected thyroid nodule and stained using the Romanowsky- based method developed by Liu. By the end of 2002, some 3629 patients (16.7%) had thyroid nodules after surgical treatment. This group comprised 3011 women with a mean age of 41.5 +/- 13.9 years, and 618 men with a mean age of 45.7 +/- 14.9 years. Of patients undergoing surgical treatment, 2761 (76.1%) patients were diagnosed with benign nodules, 858 (23.6%) with malignant nodules, and 10 (0.3%) with atypical adenoma (7 follicular and 3 Hürthle cells). The percentages of thyroid malignancy in each age group revealed two peaks in both genders, namely in patients aged 20 to 29 years and in elderly patients (aged over 65 years). The peak age for thyroid malignancy in both genders was 41 to 60 years (male) and 21 to 40 years (female). The highest ratio of malignancy occurred in the elderly group (37.2%) receiving surgical treatment. In young patients (below 19 years) the percentage of malignancy was no greater than for the whole age group (20.2% versus 25.6%). Anaplastic and metastatic cancers affecting the thyroid were the main subjects in the age group. The present results demonstrated a younger distribution for well-differentiated thyroid cancer, particularly papillary thyroid carcinoma, compared to previous studies. This outcome may have resulted from the routine application of ultrasonography with FNAC in assessing the thyroid nodules, possibly helping to achieve more timely detection. The incidence of thyroid malignancy in young patients was no higher than in adults. Early detection of thyroid malignancy may be the main reason for this phenomenon. Male subjects with thyroid nodules displayed a higher incidence of this malignancy than females. Aging subjects with thyroid nodules suffered a higher rate of malignancy and were poorly differentiated. In conclusion, this retrospective large-series study demonstrated that 3.9% (858/21,748 cases) of patients with thyroid nodules showed histopathologically proven malignancy. Thyroid cancer detected by ultrasonography with FNAC occurred an average of 10 years younger than in prior studies.

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