Background: The utility of serum thyroglobulin (Tg) measurement following partial thyroidectomy or total/near-total thyroidectomy without radioactive iodine (RAI) for differentiated thyroid cancer is unclear. This systematic review examines the diagnostic accuracy of serum Tg measurement for persistent, recurrent, and/or metastatic cancer in these situations. Methods: Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Central were searched in October 2021 for studies on Tg measurement following partial thyroidectomy or total/near-total thyroidectomy without or before RAI. Quality assessment was performed, and evidence was synthesized qualitatively. Results: Thirty-seven studies met inclusion criteria. Four studies (N = 561) evaluated serum Tg measurement following partial thyroidectomy, five studies (N = 751) evaluated Tg measurement following total/near-total thyroidectomy without RAI, and 28 studies (N = 7618) evaluated Tg measurement following total or near-total thyroidectomy before RAI administration. Following partial thyroidectomy, Tg measurement was not accurate for diagnosing recurrence or metastasis, or estimates were imprecise. Following total/near-total thyroidectomy without RAI, evidence was limited due to few studies with very low rates of recurrence or metastasis, but indicated that Tg levels were usually stable and low. For Tg measurements before RAI administration, diagnostic accuracy for metastatic disease or persistence varied, although sensitivity appeared high (but specificity low) at a cutoff of >1 to 2.5 ng/mL. However, applicability to patients who do not undergo RAI is uncertain because patients selected for RAI are likely to represent a higher risk group. The evidence was very low quality for all scenarios. All studies had methodological limitations, and there was variability in the Tg thresholds evaluated, patient populations, outcomes assessed, and other factors. Conclusions: Very limited evidence suggests low utility of Tg measurement for identifying recurrent or metastatic disease following partial thyroidectomy. Following total/near-total thyroidectomy, Tg levels using a cutoff of 1-2.5 ng/mL might identify patients at low risk for persistent or metastatic disease. Additional research is needed to clarify the role of Tg measurement in these settings, determine optimal Tg thresholds, and determine appropriate measurement intervals.
- Differentiated thyroid cancer
- Systematic review
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism