Objective: To find out which factors predict recurrence of cancer in the re
mnant after unilateral thyroid lobectomy for patients with papillary cancer
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: Teaching hospital, Japan.
Subjects: One hundred thirty-three patients with a clinically solitary papi
llary thyroid cancer who had unilateral lobectomy for the primary disease b
etween 1966 and 1990 and were followed up for more than 60 months. Twelve p
atients had developed recurrences in the remnant gland by the time of the s
econd operation and 121 patients had not as judged by a second operation, a
n ultrasound examination, or by palpation.
Result: The primary tumour size in those who developed recurrences was sign
ificantly larger than in those who did not (p < 0.0001), and clinical signs
of regional lymph node involvement or distant metastases were also signifi
cantly more common (p = 0.006). No patient died of their cancer.
Conclusion: Size of the primary tumour is an important prognostic factor fo
r recurrence of solitary papillary thyroid cancer in the remnant after unil
ateral lobectomy. Such recurrences are unlikely to be lethal.