What is included in the long-term monitoring of follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC)?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020
  • Author: Luigi Santacroce, MD; Chief Editor: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD  more...
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Perform postoperative scintiscan of the neck after 4-6 weeks without thyroid hormone replacement. At this time, a scan of the neck demonstrates whether thyroid tissue is still present. If thyroid tissue is present, a dose of radioactive iodine is administered to destroy residual tissue. The patient is then placed on lifelong thyroid replacement with L-T4. Repeat the scintiscan 6-12 months after ablation and, thereafter, every 2 years. Prior to the scan, L-T4 must be withdrawn for approximately 4-6 weeks to maximize thyrotropin stimulation of any remaining thyroid tissue.

Radioactive iodine may ablate the metastatic tissue in the lungs and bone. In fact, metastases of FTC appear to be more amenable to radioiodine therapy than metastases of papillary carcinoma.

For a single CNS metastasis, consider neurosurgical resection and radioiodine treatment, perhaps combined with recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormon (rhTSH) and steroids, and/or radiation therapy.

Evaluate thyroglobulin serum levels every 6-12 months for at least 5 years. Consider a level higher than 20 ng/mL, after TSH suppression, to be abnormal. A recurrence of thyroid cancer can be detected if a rise in the thyroglobulin level is found on monitoring. All patients who have undergone total thyroidectomy and those who have had radioactive ablation of any remaining thyroid tissue should be treated with thyroid hormone suppression. Individualize the degree of suppression to avoid complications such as subclinical hyperthyroidism.

A study by Brassard et al found that thyroglobulin measurements allow prediction of long-term recurrence with excellent specificity. TSH stimulation may be avoided when thyroglobulin levels measured 3 months after ablation are less than 0.27 ng/mL during levothyroxine treatment. [35]

A patient who has had a thyroidectomy without parathyroid preservation will require lifelong vitamin D and calcium supplementation.

More specific treatment information for FTC can be found at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network website, in the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology section.

The American Thyroid Association Taskforce on Radioiodine Safety released recommendations to help guide physicians and patients in safe practices after treatment, including reminders in the form of a checklist. [36]

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