2012 Volume 59 Issue 10 Pages 941-948
Stratification of risk factors for cervical lymph node metastasis (LNM) in thyroid papillary carcinoma is important for providing standards for post-operative adjuvant radio-iodine therapy and for patient prognosis. We investigated pathological factors based on the lymphatic vessel system and radiological features associated with tumor with cervical neck LNM. Among patients who had undergone thyroidectomy confirmed to be papillary thyroid carcinoma, we selected 126 age-sex matched paired patients without cervical LNM (group 1) and with LNM (group 2) to evaluate risk factors. Pathological factors evaluated were size, multiplicity, and extra thyroid extension state, based on the pathological reports using stored data. The lymphatic vessel density (LVD) of each tumor was evaluated by staining for VEGFR-3 and D2-40 and correlated with cervical LNM state. Malignant ultrasound features were evaluated to compare the differences between these two groups. Larger tumor size, multiplicity, extrathyroid extension were more common in group 2 (p<0.05). The median percentage of VEGFR-3 for group 1 was 20 (range 0-30) and D2-40 was 13 (range 7-23) while for group 2, VEGFR-3 was 80 (70-90) and D2-40 was 78 (54-114). LVD measured by intratumoral D2-40 staining was 20.6% and 79.4% for group 1 and group 2, respectively. Intra-tumoral lymphatics measured by D2-40 stain had a strong correlation with cervical LNM (Odds 1.230, CI 1.01.-1.499 p value 0.040). Ultrasound (US) features had no significant differences between the two groups although calcifications tended to be higher in group 2 (84% vs. 76% p=0.264). Lymphatic vessel density and nodule echogenicity were not associated with LNM. Intratumoral lymphangiogenesis was most strongly associated with LNM and thus, could be a useful predictive marker for cervical LNM.