Microscopic Positive Margins in Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Is Not an Independent Predictor of Local Failure

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In contrast to other head and neck cancers, the impact of histological thyroid specimen margin status in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) is not well understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic value of margin status on local recurrence in DTC. Method: The records of 3664 consecutive patients treated surgically for DTC between 1986 and 2010 were identified from an institutional database. Patients with less than total thyroidectomy, unresectable or gross residual disease, or M1 disease at presentation and those with unknown pathological margin status were excluded from analysis. In total, 2616 patients were included in the study; 2348 patients (90%) had negative margins and 268 patients (10%) had positive margins. Microscopic positive margin status was defined as tumor present at the specimen's edge on pathological analysis. Patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics were compared by Pearson's chi-squared test. Local recurrence free survival (LRFS) was calculated for each group using the Kaplan Meier method. Results: The median age of the cohort was 48 years (range 7-91 years) and the median follow-up was 50 months (range 1-330 months). Age, sex, and histology types were similar between groups. As expected, patients who had positive margins were more likely to have larger tumors (p<0.001), extrathyroidal extension (ETE) (p<0.001), multicentric disease (p<0.001), or nodal disease (p<0.001) and were more likely to receive adjuvant radioactive iodine therapy (p<0.001) as well as external beam radiotherapy (p<0.001). The LRFS at 5 years for patients with positive margins status was slightly poorer compared with patients with negative margins (98.9% vs. 99.5%, p=0.018). Twelve patients developed local recurrence - 8/2348 (0.34%) patients with negative margins and 4/263 (1.52%) patients with positive margins. Univariate predictors of LRFS were sex (p=0.006), gross ETE (<0.001), and positive margins (p=0.018). However, when controlling for presence of gross ETE on multivariate analysis, microscopic positive margin status was not an independent predictor of LRFS (p=0.193). Conclusion: Patients with resectable, M0 disease that undergo total thyroidectomy have an excellent five year LRFS of 99.4%. Microscopic positive margin status was not a significant predictor for local failure after adjusting for ETE or pathological tumor (pT) stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-998
Number of pages6
JournalThyroid Journal Program
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Microscopic Positive Margins in Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Is Not an Independent Predictor of Local Failure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this