What is the role of total thyroidectomy in the treatment of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC)?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020
  • Author: Luigi Santacroce, MD; Chief Editor: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD  more...
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Approximately 10% of patients who have had total thyroidectomy demonstrate cancer in the contralateral lobe. Therefore, residual thyroid tissue has the potential to dedifferentiate to anaplastic cancer.

Perform total thyroidectomy in patients with FTC who are older than 40 years and in any patient with bilateral disease; furthermore, recommend total thyroidectomy to anyone with a thyroid nodule and a history of irradiation.

Some studies show lower recurrence rates and increased survival rates in patients who have undergone total thyroidectomy. This surgical procedure also facilitates earlier detection and treatment of recurrent or metastatic carcinoma. This surgical option is mandatory in patients with FTC ascertained by postoperative histologic studies (ie, if a very well-differentiated tumor is discovered) after a one-side lobectomy, with or without isthmectomy.

When the primary tumor has spread outside the thyroid and involves adjacent vital organs, such as the larynx, trachea, or esophagus, preserve these organs at the first surgical approach. However, the surrounding soft tissues, including muscles and involved areas of the trachea and/or esophagus, may be sacrificed whenever they are involved directly in the differentiated thyroid carcinoma and their local resection is easily feasible. Surgical resection of one or more brain metastases may prolong survival from 4 to 22 months.

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