Encapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma with bone metastases

Mod Pathol. 2000 Aug;13(8):861-5. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.3880153.


Although true follicular thyroid carcinoma is known to metastasize via the bloodstream and give rise to bone and lung metastases, such a pattern of spread is rare in papillary thyroid carcinoma. The follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (FVPTC) is believed to behave in a clinical manner similar to usual or classical papillary cancer and to follow a similar indolent course. There have been a few reports of "aggressive" FVPTC wherein follicular patterned tumors with nuclear features of papillary carcinoma have metastasized hematogenously; these neoplasms have been diffusely invasive or multicentric in the thyroid. We report five cases of FVPTC, which were encapsulated and simulated grossly and microscopically follicular adenomas. In two of these, the primary was discovered after clinical presentation of bone metastases. In three others, bony metastases (without other nonosseous metastases) arose 7 to 17 years after thyroid lobectomy for lesions initially diagnosed as follicular adenoma In retrospect, these three encapsulated lesions had vascular invasion. We wish to bring attention to these innocuous-appearing lesions, which, although sharing nuclear features of papillary cancer, behave clinically in an unexpectedly malignant fashion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary, Follicular / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary, Follicular / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery