Level 7 Disease Does Not Confer Worse Outcome than Level 6 Disease in Differentiated Thyroid Cancer

Laura Y. Wang, Frank L. Palmer, Dorothy Thomas, Iain J. Nixon, R. Michael Tuttle, Jatin P. Shah, Snehal G. Patel, Ashok R. Shaha, Ian Ganly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Level 7 nodal disease increases patients from N1a to N1b in the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM classification of differentiated thyroid cancers (DTCs). This results in upstaging of patients older than 45 years of age from stage III to IV. Our objective was to determine if patients with level 7 disease had poorer outcome in comparison to patients with isolated level 6 disease.

Methods: A total of 599 patients with DTC limited to the central neck (level 6 and 7) were identified from an institutional database. Patients with N1b disease due to lateral compartment (level 1–5) involvement or M1 disease were excluded. Fifty-seven patients had positive level 7 disease, and 542 patients had nodal disease limited to level 6. Disease-specific survival (DSS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS) were calculated for each group.

Results: Median age was 41 years (range 12–91) and follow-up was 61 months (range 1–330). There were no disease-specific deaths at 5 years. Among patients with level 6 disease at presentation, there were 42 nodal recurrences, and among patients with level 7 disease, there were two recurrences. There were no differences in overall RFS between patients with level 6 or 7 disease (5-year RFS 90.7 vs. 98.2 %, respectively; p = 0.096).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that N1b disease due to level 7 disease does not confer worse DSS or RFS compared with patients with level 6 disease only. Classifying all central neck disease (levels 6 and 7) into the N1a category, and reserving the N1b classification only for patients with lateral neck disease may be more reflective of prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-445
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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