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Radiofrequency Ablation: A Promising Treatment for Thyroid Cancer

In a groundbreaking study published in JAMA Surgery, a team of researchers led by Li X, Yan L, Xiao J, et al. has unveiled promising clinical outcomes for patients with T1N0M0 papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) treated with ultrasonography-guided radiofrequency ablation (RFA). This retrospective study, conducted in Beijing, China, represents a significant stride in treating thyroid cancer, a disease witnessing an increasing global incidence.

The study, published online on October 25, 2023, meticulously evaluated the long-term effects of RFA on patients with non-aggressive PTC, characterized by tumors no larger than 20mm in diameter and without extrathyroidal extension or metastasis. From January 2014 to December 2020, the research included 1613 patients, providing a comprehensive assessment of RFA’s effectiveness.

A notable demographic aspect of the study is its predominantly female patient base (77.9%), with a mean age of 43.4 years. This demographic is significant, considering the higher incidence rates of thyroid cancer in women.

RFA risks

The methodology of the study was thorough. Patients underwent regular ultrasonography post-RFA, focusing on key outcomes such as local tumor progression, disease-free survival, complete tumor disappearance, and complications. The results were highly encouraging. An impressive 85.3% of patients experienced complete tumor disappearance at follow-up. The study also identified factors that increased the likelihood of complete tumor disappearance, including younger age, stage T1a tumors, and unifocal tumors.

However, the study also addressed the risks associated with RFA. Local tumor progression was observed in 4.3% of patients, with tumor recurrence and persistence in 2.6% and 1.7%, respectively. Risk factors for local tumor progression included larger tumor size, multiple tumors, and subcapsular tumor location.

RFA as a long-term treatment solution

The cumulative disease-free survival rates were notably high – 98.0% at one year, decreasing to 95.7% at eight years. These figures highlight the potential of RFA as a long-term treatment solution.

The study also emphasizes the safety of RFA, reporting a low overall complication rate of 2.0%. Major complications were rare, affecting only 0.4% of patients, and all complications resolved within six months.

While the study’s findings are significant, it is important to note its limitations, including potential selection bias and the absence of a comparative analysis with patients who underwent only active surveillance.

Favorable long-term outcomes and low complication rates

Led by Li X, Yan L, Xiao J, et al., offers new hope for those battling T1N0M0 PTC. It underscores the effectiveness of ultrasonography-guided RFA, highlighting its role as a minimally invasive treatment option with favorable long-term outcomes and low complication rates. As the medical community continues to explore and refine cancer treatments, research such as this is invaluable, paving the way for more effective and patient-friendly therapies.

The findings of this study were published in JAMA Surgery and conducted by researchers Li X, Yan L, Xiao J, et al.


RFAMD stands as the global nexus for thyroid ablation expertise and patient resources. Committed to advancing the field of thyroid ablation, we connect patients with premier doctors, promote innovative techniques, and provide up-to-date information to empower informed healthcare decisions. Our community comprises leading thyroid ablation professionals dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life. Whether you’re a patient seeking guidance or a physician aiming to enhance your practice, RFAMD is your trusted platform. Discover, connect, and thrive with us at rfamd.com.

About Philip James

Philip, the Creative Director at RFAMD, is the driving force behind the Doctor Thyroid podcast. Motivated by a personal encounter with an ill-advised thyroidectomy at UCLA, he established the podcast to equip patients with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions regarding their health. Broadcasting in both English and Spanish, Doctor Thyroid has attracted listeners from over 40 countries.

Beyond his podcasting endeavors, Philip also consults healthcare professionals, guiding them in enhancing their digital visibility. His impressive career trajectory includes roles as Chief Marketing Officer at Sightline Payments and at Gaming Analytics in Palo Alto.

For those interested in following Philip’s endeavors and insights more closely, he can be found on various social platforms:

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