The recently published 2015 American Thyroid Association guidelines recognize lobectomy as a viable alternative for low-risk cancers and advise more conservative use of radioactive iodine. Some factors indicating adjuvant treatment with radioactive iodine (and therefore completion total thyroidectomy), however, only can be found upon pathologic investigation.
We performed a retrospective analysis including patients with American Thyroid Association low- and low-to-intermediate risk well-differentiated thyroid cancer 1-4 cm. We evaluated how often radioactive iodine would be indicated and compared this with our historic rate. A subanalysis was performed to determine the rate of completion total thyroidectomy necessary, based on the indications for adjuvant radioactive iodine therapy.
A total of 394/1,000 (39.4%) patients were included for final analysis. Adjuvant radioactive iodine would have been favored in 101/394 (25.6%) of patients, which is 2.5 times less than was given in our historic cohort. Completion total thyroidectomy to enable adjuvant radioactive iodine would have been recommended in 29/149 (19.5%) patients preoperatively eligible for lobectomy.
Despite the tightened regulations for radioactive iodine, about 20% of patients with apparently "low-risk" well-differentiated thyroid cancer who are eligible for lobectomy may need completion total thyroidectomy because of pathologic findings for which radioactive iodine use is listed as considered or favored by the current guidelines.