"Hot" carcinoma of the thyroid. Case reports and comments on the literature

Minerva Endocrinol. 2002 Mar;27(1):53-7.


It seems somewhat difficult to exactly define the real number of case reports concerning the association of hyperfunctioning thyroid node and carcinoma; the overall incidence of this condition seems, however, to be very rare. Different inclusion criteria are probably a fairly relevant cause of variability in the number of cases reported during the years. A basic classification scheme, as the one here reported, may be of help in characterizing the different possible conditions: 1. the coexistence of carcinoma and focally hyperfunctioning tissue in the same gland but at different locations (not uncommon); 2. the presence of such a large tumour mass that it can compete with normal tissue for tracer uptake, despite being hormonogenetically uneffective in itself; 3. the carcinoma located in the hyperfunctioning adenoma; 4. the real hyperfunctioning carcinoma, where coincidence between hyperfunctioning tissue and malignancy is complete (very rare). Two cases are reported here, respectively belonging to the third and fourth of these categories (the most challenging from a diagnostic point of view). The matter is intrinsically poor from a statistical standpoint: it is therefore difficult to draw definitive conclusions on the subject in operative terms. It is however felt that the systematic evaluation of oncological risk in thyroid nodes, occasionally recommended in the literature, may be cumbersome and not necessarily cost-effective.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / complications
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / radiotherapy
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / secondary
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / surgery
  • Adenoma / complications
  • Adenoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenoma / metabolism
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / etiology
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Reoperation
  • Sodium Pertechnetate Tc 99m / pharmacokinetics*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / complications
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroid Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroidectomy


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Sodium Pertechnetate Tc 99m