Carcinomas of the Thyroid with Ewing Family Tumor Elements (CEFTEs): A Diagnostic Challenge Before Surgery

Head Neck Pathol. 2021 Mar;15(1):254-261. doi: 10.1007/s12105-020-01145-z. Epub 2020 Feb 19.


Carcinomas of the thyroid with Ewing family tumor elements (CEFTEs) are small cell thyroid tumors characterized by epithelial differentiation and EWSR1-FLI1 rearrangements. In contrast to primary thyroid Ewing sarcomas, these rare tumors have a favorable prognosis. CEFTEs may co-exist with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) foci and are thought to arise from either PTCs or main cells of solid cell nests (SCN). Due to their rare occurrence, characteristic clinical presentations, preoperatory sonographic (US) findings, and fine-needle aspiration (FNA) cytologic features were ill-defined until now. We report a case of a 40-year-old male who was referred to the thyroid clinic for a progressively enlarging, hard, painless, cervical mass. US examination revealed a hypoechoic nodule with lobulated margins and scant intranodular vascular signals of the right thyroid lobe. Evidence of extracapsular spread was not identified. FNA provided a Bethesda V cytology classification on conventional smears. Repeat FNA sampling with the use of a CytoFoam Core allowed a preoperative diagnosis consistent with undifferentiated thyroid carcinoma. Total thyroidectomy without lymph node dissection was performed. Histologic examination with subsequent molecular studies provided the diagnosis of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid with Ewing family tumour elements (CEFTEs). No additional treatment was rendered and the patient showed no evidence of local or distant disease by clinical examination, US, and 18FDG-TAC/PET after 6 months of follow-up. This is the first reported case of CEFTE with complete clinical, US, cytologic, and immunohistochemical preoperatory assessment.

Keywords: CEFTE; CytoFoam Core; EWSR1 rearrangement; Ewing sarcoma; Papillary thyroid carcinoma; Small cell carcinoma.