An Unusual Case of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma and A Revision of Current Literature

Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2019;19(2):226-229. doi: 10.2174/1871530319666181220165350.


Background: Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) accounts for 5% of all thyroid cancers and occurs either sporadically or in a hereditary pattern. Routine calcitonin (CT) measurement is suggested for MTC screening in patients with nodular thyroid disease.

Patient findings: A 45 years-old woman incidentally discovered, with neck ultrasound, the presence of thyroid micronodules. Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) on thyroid prevailing nodule did not demonstrate cellular atypia. During follow-up, FNA was repeated on the previously analyzed nodule suspicious for Hürthle cell nodule suspicious for follicular neoplasm and on another hypoechoic right nodule which showed cellular atypia. CT was <2 pg/ml (normal values <18.2 pg/ml), anti-thyroid antibodies were positive and the patient showed a normal thyroid function. The patient also was diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism with an enlarged parathyroid gland behind the right thyroid lobe. Therefore, she underwent total thyroidectomy and a selective parathyroidectomy was performed. Histology showed an encapsulated microMTC (pT1aNxMx) associated with diffuse C-cell hyperplasia and lymphocytic thyroiditis. The neoplasm was positive for calcitonin and chromogranin A and negative for thyroglobulin. A right parathyroid adenoma was also diagnosed. One month after surgery basal and stimulated CT were <2 ng/ml. Genetic analysis did not reveal mutation of RET proto-oncogene. Twelve months after surgery, neck ultrasonography, chest and abdomen computed tomography did not demonstrated residual/recurrent disease with undetectable serum CT.

Conclusion: In the literature, few MTC cases with normal serum CT have been reported. Although MTC without elevated plasma CT is extremely rare, normal or low CT levels, do not entirely exclude this diagnosis.

Keywords: Thyroid; calcitonin; medullary thyroid carcinoma; thyroid carcinoma; thyroid nodular disease; thyroidectomy..

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / complications
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings
  • Middle Aged
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Thyroid Gland / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / complications
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroid Nodule / complications
  • Thyroid Nodule / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Nodule / pathology
  • Thyroidectomy

Supplementary concepts

  • Thyroid cancer, medullary