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Min Ji Jeon, Won Gu Kim, Ki-Wook Chung, Jung Hwan Baek, Won Bae Kim, and Young Kee Shong

The recent sharp increase in thyroid cancer incidence is mainly due to increased detection of small papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC). Due to the indolent nature of the disease, active surveillance (AS) of low-risk PTMCs is suggested as an alternative to immediate surgery to reduce morbidity from surgery. For appropriately selected PTMC patients, AS can be a good management option and surgical intervention can be safely delayed until progression occurs. Many considerations must be taken into account at the time of initiation of AS, including radiological tumor characteristics and clinical characteristics of the patient. A specialized medical team should be assembled to monitor patients during AS with an appropriate follow-up protocol. The fact that some patients require surgery for disease progression after long-term follow-up is a major drawback of the current AS protocol. Evaluation of tumor kinetics by three-dimensional tumor volume measurement during the initial 2–3 years of AS may be helpful for discrimination of PTMCs that need early surgical intervention. In this review, we will discuss the clinical outcomes of surgical intervention and AS, considerations during AS, and unresolved questions about AS.

Free access

Eun Kyung Jang, Won Gu Kim, Hyemi Kwon, Yun Mi Choi, Min Ji Jeon, Tae Yong Kim, Young Kee Shong, Won Bae Kim, and Eui Young Kim

Background and Objective: Type 2 diabetes is known to increase the risk and progression of certain types of cancer. Metformin treatment of diabetic patients is reported to have beneficial effects on some cancers. We evaluated the clinical outcome of diabetic patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) according to metformin treatment. Methods: We reviewed 943 patients diagnosed with DTC after total thyroidectomy between 1995 and 2005 in a tertiary hospital. The study involved 60 diabetic patients and 210 control patients matched for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and tumor size. Results: There were no differences in the clinicopathological features and disease-free survival (DFS) between diabetic patients and the control group over 8.9 years of follow-up. Of the diabetic patients with DTC, 35 patients (58%) were treated with metformin. There were no differences in age, sex, BMI, tumor size, antidiabetic medication, glycated hemoglobin, or C-peptide levels in metformin and nonmetformin groups. However, cervical lymph node (LN) metastasis was more prevalent in the metformin group than in the nonmetformin group (OR 3.52, p = 0.035). Among diabetic patients with cervical LN metastasis of DTC, the metformin subgroup (17.1 years) was associated with longer DFS than the nonmetformin subgroup (8.6 years) (HR 0.16, p = 0.021); metformin treatment was also associated with longer DFS in this subgroup in multivariate analysis after adjusting age, BMI, duration of diabetes, presence of tumor at resection margin, and serum thyroglobulin level at ablation (HR 0.03, p = 0.035). Conclusions: Metformin treatment is associated with low recurrence in diabetic patients with cervical LN metastasis of DTC.

Open access

Meihua Jin, Ahreum Jang, Chae A Kim, Tae Young Kim, Won Bae Kim, Young Kee Shong, Min Ji Jeon, and Won Gu Kim


This study evaluated the efficacy of antithyroid drugs (ATDs) and risk factors associated with the recurrence of Graves’ hyperthyroidism using a comprehensive retrospective cohort.


We included 1829 patients newly diagnosed with Graves’ hyperthyroidism, with sufficient follow-up data. Clinical outcomes of the patients and risk factors associated with recurrence-free survival, including the changes in thyrotropin receptor antibody, were evaluated.


The median age of the patients was 44.5 years, and 69% were female. Among the patients, 1235 had a chance to withdraw ATD after a median of 23 (interquartile range (IQR) 17.0–35.5) months of treatment. The first remission rate was 55.6% during a median of 72.7 months of follow-up. After the first recurrence, 95% of patients underwent the second course of ATD treatment for a median of 21.1 (IQR 14.8–31.7) months, and the remission rate was 54.1%. During a median of 67 months of follow-up, 7.7% of patients underwent surgery, and 10.5% underwent radioactive iodine therapy. Approximately 30% were still on ATD therapy for recurrent disease or prolonged low-dose maintenance. Younger age (<45 years), male sex, and fluctuating or smoldering of TRAb levels were independent risk factors of the first recurrence after ATD treatment.


ATD treatment is an acceptable option for the initial treatment of Graves’ hyperthyroidism as well as for recurrent disease. The optimal treatment period for ATD treatment needs to be determined using the individual risk factors of recurrence.

Free access

Dong Jun Lim, Won Bae Kim, Bo Hyun Kim, Tae Yong Kim, Young Suk Jo, Ho-Cheol Kang, Young Joo Park, Ka Hee Yi, Minho Shong, In Joo Kim, Do Joon Park, Sun Wook Kim, Jae Hoon Chung, Jaetae Lee, Sung-Soo Koong, and Young Kee Shong

Background: Acute short-term hypothyroidism induced by thyroid hormone withdrawal (THW) for follow-up surveillance or therapeutic radioiodine causes patients with differentiated thyroid cancer to suffer from a myriad of deleterious symptoms. Objectives: To know how patient recognition of hypothyroid symptoms compares to physician perception of patient symptoms. Methods: The survey was performed in 10 referral hospitals throughout Korea from December 2010 to May 2011 and targeted patients with total thyroidectomy and remnant ablation. The survey consisted of questions regarding the effect of THW on patient symptoms, the duration of symptoms, impact on social life, and patient complaints. The physicians treating thyroid cancer patients also responded to the survey and provided their perceptions of patient symptoms and treatment decisions. Results: About 70% of the patients responded that they experienced a negative physical or psychological impact on their life and work due to hypothyroid symptoms. However, 76% of doctors thought hypothyroidism could negatively impact a patient's daily life but would be endurable. Two thirds of physicians do not routinely recommend recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) to their patients. Multivariate analysis showed patients with female sex, stronger educational background, emotionally negative experiences of hypothyroidism, and younger age were more willing to pay for therapy that could prevent hypothyroidism symptoms. Conclusions: There was a substantial gap in the perception of hypothyroid symptoms during THW between physicians and patients. Physicians who are aware of the seriousness of hypothyroidism in their patients were more likely to recommend the use of rhTSH for their patients.

Free access

Eyun Song, Jonghwa Ahn, Hye-Seon Oh, Min Ji Jeon, Won Gu Kim, Won Bae Kim, Young Kee Shong, and Tae Yong Kim

Background: Although body weight change (BWC) is a common manifestation of thyroid dysfunction, solid evidence for whether to perform or on whom to perform thyroid function test in subjects complaining of BWC is lacking. Objective: To evaluate the association between thyroid dysfunction and BWC using a nationwide survey. Method: Data was obtained from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey VI 2013–2015 and 5,456 subjects without previous thyroid disease were included. Serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4, and self-reported BWC during the previous year were used for the evaluation. Weight loss or gain was defined as weight change of at least 3 kg. Results: In total, 1,017 men (37.3%) and 1,175 women (43.0%) reported BWCs during the previous year. The overall weighted prevalence of thyroid dysfunction was not significantly associated with the extent of BWC in men (p = 0.705) or women (p = 0.094). However, when the impact of TSH levels on weight change was separately evaluated for weight gain and loss after adjusting for age and body mass index in each sex, weight loss in women was significantly associated with TSH levels (hazard ratio 0.64, 95% CI 0.47–0.85, p = 0.03). No association of thyroid dysfunction was observed for weight gain in women (p = 0.23) or any changes in men (p = 0.875 in weight gain, p = 0.923 in weight loss). Conclusions: This study highlights the necessity of performing thyroid function testing in women who complain of weight loss, but such testing may be less vital in women with weight gain or men with any changes in weight.

Free access

Eun Kyung Jang, Dong Eun Song, Gyungyub Gong, Jung Hwan Baek, Yun Mi Choi, Min Ji Jeon, Ji Min Han, Won Gu Kim, Tae Yong Kim, Young Kee Shong, and Won Bae Kim

Background: It infrequently occurs that cytologic diagnosis of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) cannot be confirmed by histology after surgery. This phenomenon may be a false-positive cytology or a true disappearing tumor. Objectives: We evaluated patients who had consistent findings of PTC at fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and no evidence of PTC in surgical specimens. Methods: Positive cytology findings and a negative histological diagnosis of PTC in the thyroid was defined as thyroid nodules with FNAC findings of PTC prior to surgery and no evidence of malignancy on histological examination of surgically removed thyroids. We retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent fine needle aspiration (FNA) and thyroidectomy in Asan Medical Center from 2004 to 2012. Results: Six patients were found who fit the definition of positive cytology findings and a negative histological diagnosis of PTC in the thyroid. The FNAC diagnosis of 6 patients was ‘malignancy' suggesting PTC according to the Bethesda system. All patients underwent thyroidectomy with central neck dissection. Three patients had reactive changes after FNA due to needle passage. Among these 3 patients, 2 had pathologically confirmed metastatic PTC in dissected lymph nodes. These 2 patients could be defined as true disappearing PTC in the thyroid after FNA. The remaining 3 patients had neither histologic alterations nor evidence of PTC in the thyroid and lymph nodes specimens. Conclusions: Both disappearing PTC and a false-positive result of FNAC should be considered in patients with positive cytology findings and a negative histological diagnosis of PTC in the thyroid.