The role of external radiotherapy in the treatment of medullary carcinoma of the thyroid.

M A Costa, O Sousa, I Azevedo, C Castro, T Fernandes, E Vieira


Medullary carcinoma of the thyroid represents 3 to 10% of all thyroid cancers. Surgery is the main treatment. External beam radiotherapy has a fundamental role in the treatment of residual disease following surgery, in cases of cervical node involvement, and in unresectable tumors. Between 1975 and 1993, 12 patients with medullary carcinoma of the thyroid were treated at the Department of Radiotherapy of the Portuguese Institute of Oncology in Oporto. Nine of these patients (75%) were male and 3 (25%) female, ranging from 24 to 80 years of age (mean = 43). All of them had residual tumor after surgery and underwent treatment with external beam radiotherapy. The follow-up period ranged from 36 to 180 months, with a median of 78 months; 8 patients (66.7%) are alive, 5 of them show no evidence of disease. Average survival was 70 months, and 4 patients (33%) died with metastatic disease. The aim of this paper is to analyse the role of external beam radiotherapy in local control of these tumors, with a brief review of the literature.

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