Greater Local Recurrence Occurs with "Berry Picking" than Neck Dissection in Thyroid Cancer

Musacchio, Michael J.; Kim, Anthony W.; Vijungco, Joseph D.; Prinz, Richard A.
March 2003
American Surgeon;Mar2003, Vol. 69 Issue 3, p191
Academic Journal
Managing cervical lymph node metastases in well-differentiated thyroid cancer with either "berry picking" (BP) or anatomic neck dissection (AND) has not been shown to alter survival. Nevertheless local control of thyroid cancer is important. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the local recurrence rate of well-differentiated thyroid cancer is equivalent with BP versus AND. A retrospective analysis revealed 41 patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer and cervical node metastases seen by a single surgeon from 1985 to 2002. A total of 83 initial and repeat neck operations were performed (nine BPs, 30 central neck dissections, and 44 modified radical neck dissections). Recurrence of cancer, intervention for recurrence, and complications of the BP and AND groups were evaluated. All nine (100%) patients undergoing a limited BP operation had local recurrence of cancer. Only three of the 32 (9%) patients undergoing an initial formal neck operation had local recurrence of tumor. The recurrences after BP (100%) were significantly greater than the recurrences after AND (9%) (P < 0.001). The incidence of surgical complications with BP and AND was not different. Six of 32 (19%) initial formal neck dissection patients and four of nine (44%) BP patients had surgical complications. We conclude that BP is associated with greater local recurrence of thyroid cancer. Patients with nodal metastases should be managed with ANDs.


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