For small thyroid cancers (≤2 cm), tumour volume may better predict aggressive disease, defined by lymphovascular invasion (LVI) than a traditional single measurement of diameter. We aimed to investigate the relationship between tumour diameter, volume and associated LVI.
Differentiated thyroid cancers (DTC) ≤ 2 cm surgically resected between 2007 and 2016 were analysed. Volume was calculated using the formula for an ellipsoid shape from pathological dimensions. A ‘larger volume’ cut-off was established by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis using the presence of lateral cervical lymph node metastasis (N1b). Logistic regression was performed to compare the ‘larger volume’ cut-off to traditional measurements of diameter in the prediction.
During the study period, 2405 DTCs were surgically treated and 523 met the inclusion criteria. The variance of tumour volume relative to diameter increased exponentially with increasing tumour size; the interquartile ranges for the volumes of 10, 15 and 20 mm diameter tumours were 126, 491 and 1225 mm3, respectively. ROC analysis using volume to predict N1b disease established an optimal volume cut-off of 350 mm3 (area under curve = 0.59, P = 0.02) as ‘larger volume’. ’Larger volume’ DTC was an independent predictor for LVI in multivariate analysis (odds ratio (OR) = 1.7, P = 0.02), whereas tumour diameter > 1 cm was not (OR = 1.5, P = 0.13). Both the volume > 350 mm3 and dimension > 1 cm were associated with greater than five lymph node metastasis and extrathyroidal extension.
In this study for small DTCs ≤ 2 cm, the volume of >350 mm3 was a better predictor of LVI than greatest dimension > 1 cm.