Papillary thyroid carcinoma tends to grow slowly and respond well to treatment. The overall prognosis for pediatric patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma is excellent. Individual prognosis depends on multiple factors, particularly whether or not the disease has spread outside of the thyroid gland.
Even with disease that has spread outside of the thyroid gland, papillary thyroid carcinoma remains very treatable. Still, persistent and recurrent disease is more common in the pediatric population and may present even decades after initial treatment and a long period during which there was no evidence of disease. For this reason, multiple procedures and multiple radioactive iodine treatments may be required and long-term follow-up is critical.
While recurrent disease is actually more common in children than in adults, the outcomes in pediatric patients with recurrence are actually better. With appropriate treatment, most patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma can expect a long and fulfilling life.