During the last decade, several analyses of prognostic factors for differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) have been reported. Although these studies have established a framework for rational treatment planning, they have not fully answered questions regarding the prognostic significance of cervical lymph node metastases. An analysis of patients treated for DTC at our institution over a 34-year period has shown several factors to be significant by log-rank analysis, including the presence of cervical lymph node metastases, age greater than or equal to 50 years, a primary cancer size of greater than 3.0 cm, and distant metastases. Further analysis has shown the node-negative and node-positive patient groups to be similar in regard to age, size of primary cancer, and the presence of distant metastases. This report compares our data with those of other studies that have investigated the association of cervical lymph node metastases and a poorer prognosis in patients with DTC. When considered as a group, these studies support the finding of the prognostic significance of cervical lymph node metastases, particularly that of palpable lymphadenopathy in older patients. © 1992 Reed Publishing USA.