Recurrent thyroid cancer typically occurs in the neck area, such as the lymph nodes . This is called a regional recurrence. Some patients experience distant metastases, or cancer that has spread to other areas of the body. Distant thyroid cancer recurrence typically develops in the bones and lung
Most patients with thyroid cancer have the cancer contained in the thyroid at the time of diagnosis. About 30% will have metastatic cancer, with most having spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes in the neck and only 1-4% having spread of the cancer outside of the neck to other organs such as the lungs and bone.
Signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer recurrence may include:
- Neck swelling or a lump in the neck that may grow rapidly.
- Neck pain that starts in the front of the neck and sometimes extends to the ears.
- Trouble breathing or swallowing.
- Voice changes or hoarseness.
- Continuous cough not related to a cold.
Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) has excellent survival, however, recurrence remains a major concern with up to 20% of patients developing recurrent disease at some point during their lifetime (1). The average time to recurrence has been reported in the literature anywhere from 6 months to decades later (2–4
Most people do very well after treatment, but follow-up care is very important since most thyroid cancers grow slowly and can recur even 10 to 20 years after initial treatment
If the thyroglobulin level begins to rise, it might be a sign the cancer is coming back , and further testing will be done. This usually includes a radioactive iodine scan, and may include PET scans and other imaging tests.
Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) has excellent survival, however, recurrence remains a major concern with up to 20% of patients developing recurrent disease at some point during their lifetime (1). The average time to recurrence has been reported in the literature anywhere from 6 months to decades later (2–4).
Recurrent papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) beyond the first two decades of definitive treatment (i.e. total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine ablation) is a rare occurrence .
Most patients with recurrent WDTC undergo salvage treatment with further surgery and/or iodine 131 therapy. However, a small number of patients will die as a result of uncontrolled locoregional or distant disease. The mortality of patients with a recurrence has been reported as high as 38% to 69% .
This study shows that after the first re-operation for persistent or recurrent thyroid cancer, just over 50% were free of disease and apparently cured . This study shows that surgery for an initial recurrence can produce long-lasting cures in many patients and therefore is a good approach to treatment.