High frequency of cancer in cold thyroid nodules occurring at young age

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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In order to evaluate the risk of malignancy of cold thyroid nodules occurring in young as compared with adult patients, we studied a consecutive series of 2327 patients with a solitary cold thyroid nodule over a 6-year period. None of these patients had been previously irradiated in the neck or head. Fine needle aspiration of the nodule and cytologic examination were carried out in all patients and, on the basis of this evaluation and clinical examination 391 patients were selected for surgery; 109 patients were 4–20 years old and 2218 patients were older than 20 years. Malignancy was found in 11 (10.1%) and in 112 (5.0%) of cold thyroid nodules occurring in young and adult patients, respectively. The annual incidence of cold thyroid nodules in the population of the area studied was 5.2 vs 55.9 (per 105 inhabitants) in the young and in the adult group, respectively, and the annual incidence of thyroid cancer was 0.53 vs 2.82 (per 105 inhabitants) in the young and in the adult patients, respectively. The present study indicates, therefore, that in the absence of head or neck irradiation, cold thyroid nodules are much less frequent in young age, but that the malignancy rate of cold nodules occurring in young patients is 2-fold higher than in adults patients


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European Society of Endocrinology