Precursor lesions of endocrine system neoplasms

Pathology. 2013 Apr;45(3):316-30. doi: 10.1097/PAT.0b013e32835f45c5.


The concept of precursor lesions of endocrine neoplasms is a new and interesting topic in endocrine pathology. A variety of clinicopathological conditions are associated with a sequence of cellular changes from hyperplasia to neoplasia; dysplasia is, in contrast, quite rare. The majority of precursor lesions is associated with familial genetic syndromes. These include C-cell hyperplasia in thyroid that is associated with familial medullary thyroid carcinoma, adrenal medullary hyperplasia as a precursor of phaeochromocytomas in MEN2 syndrome, rare pituitary adenohypophyseal cell hyperplasia in familial syndromes associated with pituitary adenomas, MEN1-related precursor gastric enterochromaffin-like cell (ECL) hyperplasia, and duodenal gastrin producing (G) and/or somatostatin producing (D) cell hyperplasia that give rise to type II gastric neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) and duodenal NETs, respectively, and MEN1- or VHL-related islet hyperplasia, islet dysplasia and ductulo-insular complexes that are associated with pancreatic NETs. Other hyperplasias are not thought to be associated with genetic predisposition. Some are attributed to inflammation; autoimmune chronic atrophic gastritis-related ECL hyperplasia can progress to type I gastric NETs, and EC (enterochromaffin) cell or L cell hyperplasia associated with inflammatory bowel diseases can progress to colorectal NETs. In the lung, diffuse idiopathic pulmonary neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia can give rise to peripherally-located low grade pulmonary NETs and tumourlets (neuroendocrine microtumours <5 mm). Rarely, secondary hyperplasias develop into autonomous neoplasms, as in tertiary hyperparathyroidism or pituitary thyrotroph adenomas in primary hypothyroidism. While some precursor lesions, such as thyroid C cell hyperplasia, represent frankly premalignant conditions, others may represent a sequence of proliferative changes from hyperplasia to benign neoplasia that may also progress to malignancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*