Population-based studies are of great importance to better understand and manage rare diseases such as thyroid cancers in children and adolescents, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 

The incidence of thyroid cancer, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), has been on the rise globally in recent years. 

In order to elucidate the epidemiology, management, and survival rates of pediatric and adolescent patients with thyroid cancer in France, a team of researchers led by Brigitte Lacour, MD, PhD, conducted a population-based study between 2000 and 2018 in 774 patients who were diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The median follow-up time was 11.3 years in children and 5.7 years in adolescents. Children were between 0 and 14 years of age, while adolescents were between 15 and 17 years of age.


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Of those 774 patients, 579 had papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), 111 had MTC, and 83 had follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC).

Almost all of the patients were treated with a thyroidectomy plus radiotherapy in most patients with PTC and FTC.

“PTC are more frequent in females and in adolescents whereas MTC mainly concerned children, mostly with a familial predisposition,” the authors reported. They added that between those years the incidence rates of thyroid cancers in children fluctuated between 1.3 and 3.2 per million with no significant trend and the 5-year overall survival was more than 98.5%.

“Contrary to some data observed in other countries, we did not observe a significant increase in incidence since 2000,” the authors concluded. Based on this survival data, the authors proposed stratification and therapeutic de-escalation in the most favorable cases to keep the adverse effects of treatment to a minimum.

Thyroid cancer is usually treated with primary surgery and radioactive iodine, which can cause serious side effects.

Reference

Zbitou A, Desandes E, Guissou S, Mallebranche C, Lacour B. Thyroid cancers in children and adolescents in France: Incidence, survival and clinical management over the 2000-2018 period. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2022;162:111325. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2022.111325