Medullary thyroid cancer natural history, complications and prognosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Ammu Susheela, M.D. [2]

Overview

If left untreated, patients with medullary thyroid cancer may progress to develop metastasis. Common complications of medullary thyroid cancer include vocal cord compression, dysphagia, and dyspnea. The presence of metastasis is associated with a particularly poor prognosis among patients with medullary thyroid cancer. The 5-year event-free survival rate is 80%.

Natural History

  • The symptoms of sporadic medullary thyroid cancer usually develop in the fifth and sixth decade of life and start with a nodule in the upper lobe of the thyroid.[1]
  • In 50% of the patients, the initial presentation may be metastatic cervical adenopathy.
  • Symptoms of adjacent structures compression or invasion may manifest in 15% of the patients.
  • Without treatment, the patient will develop symptoms of metastasis such as to lungs and/or bones, which may eventually lead to death.

Complications

Prognosis

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Saad MF, Ordonez NG, Rashid RK, Guido JJ, Hill CS, Hickey RC, Samaan NA (November 1984). "Medullary carcinoma of the thyroid. A study of the clinical features and prognostic factors in 161 patients". Medicine (Baltimore). 63 (6): 319–42. PMID 6503683.
  2. Hundahl, Scott A.; Fleming, Irvin D.; Fremgen, Amy M.; Menck, Herman R. (1998). "A National Cancer Data Base report on 53,856 cases of thyroid carcinoma treated in the U.S., 1985-1995". Cancer. 83 (12): 2638–2648. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0142(19981215)83:12<2638::AID-CNCR31>3.0.CO;2-1. ISSN 0008-543X.
  3. Roman, Sanziana; Lin, Rong; Sosa, Julie Ann (2006). "Prognosis of medullary thyroid carcinoma". Cancer. 107 (9): 2134–2142. doi:10.1002/cncr.22244. ISSN 0008-543X.



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