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A population-based study on NIFTP incidence and survival: Is NIFTP really a “benign” disease?


Background — This study aimed to determine the incidence of noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like features (NIFTP) in Ontario, Canada and the predictors of disease-free survival (DFS) by comparing patients with follicular variant papillary thyroid cancer (FVPTC) and patients with NIFTP.

Methods — This population-based retrospective cohort study included all patients who had definitive surgery for well-differentiated thyroid cancer (WDTC) in Ontario, Canada between 1990 and 2001 and were followed until 2014. A conservative decision rule was applied to subtype-select FVPTCs into NIFTPs after pathology report review. The primary outcome was DFS, for which Cox proportional hazard regression analysis was performed to assess the impact of FVPTC versus NIFTP.

Results — At pathology re-review of the 725 FVPTC cases, 318 were reclassified as potential NIFTP. The median follow-up time was 15.3 years for the entire cohort and 15.9 years for those alive at the last follow-up visit. Disease failure occurred for 109 patients, 79 (19.4%) in the FVPTC group and 30 (9.4%) in the NIFTP group (p < 0.01). This effect was sustained in the multivariable analysis, with FVPTC showing significantly worse DFS than NIFTP (hazard ratio, 1.84; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-2.89). After recategorization of certain FVPTCs into NIFTPs, the findings showed that NIFTP accounted for 16.8% (1.461/8.699 per 100,000) of all WDTCs.

Conclusion — The disease failure rate for NIFTP was 9.4%. The NIFTP diagnosis is challenging for the pathologist and may make tumor behavior difficult to predict for this entity. Caution should be used in the management of patients with an NIFTP.



Eskander A, Hall SF, Manduch M, Griffiths R, Irish JC. Ann Surg Oncol. 2019; 26(5):1376-84. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

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