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Removal of lymph nodes during surgery for thyroid cancer may be beneficial
Date:12/20/2011

Papillary thyroid cancer accounts for the majority of all thyroid malignancies, which primarily impact women. A new study indicates that routinely removing lymph nodes in the neck in these cancer patients may help prevent the disease from coming back.

When thyroid cancer metastasizes, lymph nodes in the neck may be affected, but these lymph-node tumors can be tiny and may not be detected by ultrasounds done before surgery to remove the diseased thyroid or even during the procedure itself.

In an international academic study published in the December issue of the journal Surgery, UCLA researchers and colleagues demonstrate that routine removal of neck lymph nodes during initial thyroid surgery for papillary cancer may lead to lower disease recurrence rates and lower levels of thyroglobulin, a thyroid tumor marker that can be an indicator of disease when elevated.

Although it is standard procedure in some cancer centers, there has been debate in the worldwide surgical community about the benefits of routinely removing neck lymph nodes, a procedure known as prophylactic central neck lymph-node dissection, or CLND.

"We found that re-operation rates due to cancer were lower in patients who had routine removal of these lymph nodes, which suggests a more thorough surgical clearance of disease," said the study's senior author, Dr. Michael Yeh, an associate professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our findings may help add to growing evidence that this additional procedure, performed during initial thyroid surgery, may be helpful in management of papillary thyroid cancer."

For the study, researchers examined data on 606 patients who received care in one of three endocrine surgical units in the U.S., England and Australia. Patients were divided into two groups: Group A patients had undergone total thyroid removal alone; Group B patients had undergone both thyroid removal and dissection
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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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