Coexistent papillary thyroid carcinoma diagnosed in surgically treated patients for primary versus secondary hyperparathyroidism: same incidence, different characteristics

BMC Surg. 2019 Jul 16;19(1):94. doi: 10.1186/s12893-019-0556-y.


Background: The coexistence of hyperparathyroidism and thyroid cancer presents important diagnostic and management challenges. With minimally invasive parathyroid surgery trending, preoperative thyroid imaging becomes more important as concomitant thyroid and parathyroid lesions are reported. The aim of the study was to evaluate the rate of thyroid cancer in patients operated for either primary (PHPT) or secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT).

Methods: Our retrospective study included PHPT and SHPT patients submitted to parathyroidectomy and, when indicated, concomitant thyroid surgery between 2010 and 2017.

Results: Parathyroidectomy was performed in 217 patients: 140 (64.5%) for PHPT and 77 (35.5%) for SHPT. Concomitant thyroid surgery was performed in 75 patients with PHPT (53.6%), and 19 papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC) were found, accounting for 13.6% from all cases with PHPT and 25.3% from PHPT cases with concomitant thyroid surgery. Thirty-one of operated SHPT patients (40.3%) also underwent thyroid surgery and 9 PTC cases were diagnosed (11.7% of all SHPT patients and 29% of patients with concomitant thyroid surgery). We found differences between PHPT and SHPT patients (p < 0.001) with respect to age (54.6 ± 13y versus 48.8 ± 12y), female-to-male ratio (8:1 versus ~ 1:1), surgical technique (single gland parathyroidectomy in 82.8% PHPT cases; versus subtotal parathyroidectomy in 85.7% SHPT cases) and presurgical PTH (357.51 ± 38.11 pg/ml versus 1020 ± 161.38 pg/ml). Morphopathological particularities, TNM classification and multifocality incidence of PTC were similar in the two groups. All PTC from patients with SHPT were thyroid microcarcinomas (TMC, i.e. tumors with a diameter smaller than 1 cm), whereas seven out of the 19 cases with PTC and PHPT were larger than 1 cm.

Conclusions: PTC was frequently and similarly associated with both PHPT and SHPT irrespective of presurgical PTH levels. Thyroid tumors above 1 cm were found only in patients with PHPT. Investigators should focus also on associated thyroid nodular pathology in patients with PHPT.

Keywords: Association; Papillary thyroid carcinoma; Primary hyperparathyroidism; Secondary hyperparathyroidism.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / complications*
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Primary / surgery
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / complications*
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / surgery
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Parathyroidectomy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / epidemiology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology*