Thyroid Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

South Korean Researchers Shed Light on Familial Nonmedullary Thyroid Cancer

By: Susan Reckling
Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2020

To better understand the clinical features of familial nonmedullary thyroid cancer, South Korean researchers conducted a retrospective study of nearly 2,900 patients with differentiated thyroid cancer who had undergone primary thyroidectomy. Comparing data from these patients with data from those with sporadic nonmedullary thyroid cancer, Yon Seon Kim, MD, of the Ulsan University Hospital, South Korea, and colleagues found the familial variant was not more aggressive than the sporadic variant. However, they noted, the familial variant should be treated with total thyroidectomy “because of the increased disease multifocality and the presence of benign nodules.” These findings were published in the World Journal of Surgery.

Of 2,894 patients with differentiated thyroid cancer who had primary thyroidectomy, the authors identified 391 cases of familial nonmedullary thyroid cancer. In nearly 400 patients (13.5%), there was a family history of thyroid cancer. In fact, 85% had two affected relatives, and 15% had at least three affected relatives. In more than half of the cases (52.9%), a sibling was affected, and in nearly half of the cases (47.1%), both a parent and a child were affected.

Dr. Kim and colleagues reported that significantly more patients with familial nonmedullary thyroid cancer exhibited multifocal disease (P = .020) or benign nodules (P = .015) than did those with the sporadic type. In addition, they found that lateral neck lymph node metastases were identified in 9.7% of those with the familial type of thyroid cancer, compared with 6.6% of those with the sporadic type. In multivariate analysis, patients with the familial variant more frequently had multifocality and combined benign masses.

“All patients with thyroid cancer should be checked for family disease history and undergo preoperative ultrasonography to determine the extent of node dissection and the need for total thyroidectomy,” the researchers concluded.

Disclosure: For full disclosure of the study authors, visit


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