To analyze differences in the demographic backgrounds, and in treatments, prognosis, and risk factors of patients with papillary thyroid cancer operated on from 1965 to 1990, by dividing them into 3 chronological groups.
Retrospective cohort study of 2423 patients with papillary thyroid cancer (tumor size, ≥10 mm) who underwent curative surgery at the Noguchi Thyroid Clinic, Oita, Japan.
A center for the treatment of thyroid disease, at which about 1400 thyroid operations are performed per year.
There were 596 patients treated during from January 1, 1965, to December 31, 1973; 964 patients treated from January 1, 1974, to December 31, 1982; and 959 patients treated from January 1, 1983, to December 31, 1990.
Of the 2519 patients treated, 96 were excluded from the study because they had undergone noncurative surgery. Therefore, the analyses are based on data for 2423 patients who underwent curative surgery. Three groups were defined as follows: group 1, underwent surgery during the period 1965-1973 (n=577); group 2, underwent surgery during the period 1974-1982 (n=924); and group 3, underwent surgery during the period 1983-1990 (n=922). The mean age of the patients in group 1 was 42.4 years, in group 2, 45.0 years, and in group 3, 47.8 years. The mean tumor size was 30.4 mm, 26.5 mm, and 24.6 mm, respectively, for groups 1, 2, and 3. The 10- and 20-year disease-specific survival rates were significantly improved from group 1 (95.5% and 90.3%, respectively) to group 2 (97.8% and 93.9%, respectively), and the 10-year rate was significantly improved for group 3 (98.2%). In the multivariate analysis, age, sex, tumor size, and gross nodal metastasis were significant predictors of survival for group 1; however, only age and gross nodal metastasis were significant for group 3.
Over time, papillary thyroid cancer has become diagnosed at an earlier stage, but the age of the patients at diagnosis is older. The disease-specific survival rate was significantly improved, mainly owing to earlier treatment, and the change in the risk factor profile for cancer mortality may be due to the changes in the demographic backgrounds and diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. These considerations derived from risk factor analysis should be considered for treating the patient and for the prediction of patient survival.