[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 1-Feb-2008
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Contact: Jessica Mikulski
newsroom@entnet.org
703-519-1549
American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Early detection critical in treating pediatric thyroid cancer

Alexandria, VA – Efforts to treat pediatric papillary thyroid cancer are greatly improved by detecting the disease as early as possible, making the patient’s age the most important factor in determining a prognosis, according to new research published in the February 2008 issue of the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

The study, authored by Italian researchers, evaluated 2,709 patients who underwent a total thyroidectomy to treat papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). Among the group’s pediatric patients (younger than 18 years old), the cancer was observed to be much more aggressive than that in adult patients. However, despite the aggressive course of the disease, this did not influence the patient’s survival rate, since cases of pediatric cancer have a better prognosis than that in adults. As a result, the authors concluded that age of detection is the single most important factor to consider when issuing a prognosis.

Thyroid cancer is the third most common tumor malignancy in children. It is one of the few cancers that has increased in incidence rates over the past several years, with an estimated 11 percent increase from 2006 to 2007. Papillary thyroid cancer occurs in cells that produce thyroid hormones containing iodine. This type, the most common form of thyroid cancer in children, grows very slowly.

The study also confirms that PTC is more prevalent in younger patients, compared with other age groups; these patients also had significantly larger tumors. However, the study’s authors concluded that the size of the tumor, which is considered a significant factor in determining prognosis in adult patients, does not play a significant role in a child’s prognosis.

The study also suggests a longer period for follow-ups is in order to more accurately measure the success of treatment.

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Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery is the official scientific journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). The study’s authors are Paolo Miccoli, MD; Michele N. Minuto, MD, PhD; Clara Ugolini, MD; Erica Panicucci, PhD; Marco Massi, MD; Piero Berti, MD; and Fulvio Basolo, MD. They are associated with the Università di Pisa, in Pisa, Italy.

Reporters wishing to obtain the full study may contact Matt Daigle at 1-703-519-1563, or at newsroom@entnet.org. Experts are also available to offer additional information regarding head and neck cancers and their treatment.

February is Kids E.N.T. Month, for the purpose of raising awareness of different pediatric ailments of the ear, nose, and throat, and other ENT-treated health issues. For more information on Kids E.N.T. month, visit www.entnet.org/kidsent/.

About the AAO-HNS

The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (www.entnet.org), one of the oldest medical associations in the nation, represents more than 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy serves its members by facilitating the advancement of the science and art of medicine related to otolaryngology and by representing the specialty in governmental and socioeconomic issues. The organization’s mission: “Working for the Best Ear, Nose, and Throat Care.”



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