Article Abstract

The pros and cons of routine central compartment neck dissection for clinically nodal negative (cN0) papillary thyroid cancer

Authors: Ai Chen Chan, Brian Hung Hin Lang, Kai Pun Wong


Metastatic disease to regional lymph nodes (LNs) is common in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). LN dissection is increasingly performed as part of the surgical management of PTC. The role of prophylactic central neck dissection (pCND) in PTC is unclear. There is limited evidence to support a routine pCND in clinical setting for nodal negative (cN0) PTC. The aim of this review was to examine the pros and cons of prophylactic neck dissection in cN0 PTC. In summary, the advantages of pCND are: removal of the central LNs that potentially harbor micro-metastases, more accurate staging of disease in order to plan more individualized management, reducing the need for re-operation to remove the metastatic LNs which have developed later and possible improvement in overall survival. The disadvantages are: an extensive surgery but lack of evidence of survival benefit, higher incidence of complications with little impact on local recurrence rate, possibility of over treating in cN0 patients and it does not sound like a cost effective approach in the management of small thyroid cancer. Considering low frequency of permanent morbidity, some authors believe that prophylactic neck dissection is safe in experienced hands even though its prognostic benefit has yet to be demonstrated.