BACKGROUND: It is important to recognize the independent prognostic factors of papillary carcinoma of thyroid in therapeutic and follow up planning. However, its good prognosis and its low prevalence make it difficult to analyze prognostic factors determining patients survival in a relatively short period of time. We retrospectively investigated the independent prognostic factors for determining disease recurrence after surgery which, in adults, are known to be closely related to the prognosis of cancer. METHOD: We retrospectively reviewed the clinical records of 456 patients (male 70, female 381, unknown 5, mean age of 43.9+-12.9 years) who had visited the thyroid clinic in Seoul National University Hospital and analyzed the data with statistical software program. RESULTS: 1) At initial visit, chief complaint of the patients was abnormal neck mass in 90 percent. 2) In preoperative thyroid scan study, 82% showed cold area and 16% showed diffuse enlargement. 3) Of the 50 recurrent cases after surgery (11.5% of the total cases), 39 cases (78%) had recurred disease in neck area and 11 cases (22%) had recurrences at distant sites. (Lung 9 cases, Brain I case, Mediastinum 1case) 4) Statistically significant risk factors for recurrence after surgery were male sex, size of tumor (above 4.5cm in this study), extrathyroidal invasion of cancer, involvement of resection margin and no remnant ablation of thyroid tissue using radioiodine. CONCLUSION: Through retrospective study, we presented some clinical characteristics of papillary thyroid cancer in Korea and independent risk factors of cancer recurrences after surgery.