BACKGROUND: Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) has an excellent prognosis, and recurrence is rare in patients with no evidence of disease (NED) after initial treatment. Despite this, several guidelines recommend long and costly follow-up, with limited evidence of improved patient outcomes. This study aims to examine the value of follow-up in patients with NED after treatment for PTC, by determining the rate of recurrence, recurrence-associated morbidity, and death, and whether any recurrence was diagnosed through the follow-up programme. METHODS: Patients operated for PTC at Lund University Hospital between January 2004 and December 2016 were eligible. Patients with T1a N0/NX were excluded as well as patients with any other thyroid malignancy. Data were collected retrospectively by searching the patients' medical records. NED was defined as thyroglobulin less than 1 ng/ml, thyroglobulin antibodies less than 20 kIU/l, and negative imaging. Biochemical recurrence was defined as thyroglobulin greater than 1 ng/ml, and/or thyroglobulin antibodies greater than 20 kIU/l. Structural recurrence was defined as a strong suspicion of recurrence on imaging and/or histological proof of recurrence. RESULTS: Out of a cohort of 187 patients, there were 90 patients with NED who were followed for a median of 6.3 years. Three patients had biochemical recurrence; none of them had symptoms, nor were they treated for their recurrence. Three had structural recurrence; all were above 75 years old and only one was diagnosed through the follow-up programme. No patient died of PTC; five patients died during the follow-up. CONCLUSION: Follow-up as it is designed today cannot identify recurrences accurately and seems to be of questionable benefit in younger patients with NED after treatment for PTC.