Thyroid lymphoma: Is there a role for surgery?

Michael L. Klyachkin, Richard W. Schwartz, Michael Cibull, Rita K. Munn, William F. Regine, Daniel E. Kenady, Patrick C. Mcgrath, David A. Sloan

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44 Scopus citations


The role of surgery in the treatment of Stage I and II non-Hodgkin's thyroid lymphoma (NHTL) is not well defined. At our institution, we have treated seven patients (six women and one man) with NHTL during the past 6 years. Three patients (43%) had a prior history of thyroid disease, usually lymphocytic thyroiditis. Clinical symptoms included a rapidly enlarging neck mass (86%), dysphagia (71%), dyspnea (71%), and hoarseness (71%). Five patients (71%) had hypothyroidism; one patient, hyperthyroidism; and one patient, normal thyroid function. Five patients underwent fine-needle aspiration (FNA) at our institution. In three instances, FNA results were indicative of NHTL; the remaining FNA tests yielded no diagnosis. Surgical procedures were varied: incisional biopsy (n = 4), limited tumor debulking with tracheostomy (n = 2), and thyroidectomy (n = 1). Each of the seven patients was found to have large cell lymphoma. Treatment consisted of combination chemotherapy with consolidative irradiation. All tumors dramatically decreased in size soon after the initiation of therapy. One patient refused radiotherapy. All patients except one are still alive (median follow-up, 24 months). In conclusion, 1) a diagnosis of NHTL, although rare should be considered when patients have rapidly growing goiters; 2) FNA is a useful first in diagnosing NHTL; 3) NHTL is exquisitely sensitive to both chemotherapy and tradition; 4) surgical intervention generally confined to incisional biopsy with occasional limited pretracheal tumor debulking; and 5) when a biopsy is obtained from a patient suspected of having NHTL, immediate processing by the pathologist is recommended so that material can be obtained for special studies as needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-238
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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