Metastatic Risk Profile of Microscopic Lymphatic and Venous Invasion in Medullary Thyroid Cancer.
The metastatic risk profile of microscopic lymphatic and venous invasion in medullary thyroid cancer is ill-defined. This evidence gap calls for evaluation of the suitability of microscopic lymphatic and venous invasion at thyroidectomy for prediction of lymph node and distant metastases in medullary thyroid cancer. In this study of 484 patients with medullary thyroid cancer who had≥5 lymph nodes removed at initial thyroidectomy, microscopic lymphatic and venous invasion were significantly associated with greater primary tumor size (27.6 vs. 14.5 mm, and 30.8 vs. 16.2 mm) and more frequent lymph node metastasis (97.0 vs. 25.9%, and 85.2 vs. 39.5%) and distant metastasis (25.0 vs. 5.1%, and 32.8 vs. 7.3%). Prediction of lymph node metastases by microscopic lymphatic invasion was better than prediction of distant metastases by microscopic venous invasion regarding sensitivity (97.0 vs. 32.8%) and positive predictive value (58.4 vs. 39.2%); comparable regarding negative predictive value (98.5 vs. 90.5%) and accuracy (80.4 vs. 85.1%); and worse regarding specificity (74.1 vs. 92.7%). On multivariable logistic regression, microscopic lymphatic invasion predicted lymph node metastasis better (odds ratio 65.6) than primary tumor size (OR 4.6 for tumors>40 mm and OR 2.7 for tumors 21-40 mm, relative to tumors≤20 mm), whereas primary tumor size was better in predicting distant metastasis (OR 8.3 for tumors>40 mm and OR 3.9 for tumors 21-40 mm, relative to tumors≤20 mm) than microscopic venous invasion (OR 3.2). These data show that lymphatic invasion predicts lymph node metastases better in medullary thyroid cancer than venous invasion heralds distant metastases.