Poorly differentiated thyroid carcinoma

Semin Diagn Pathol. 2020 Sep;37(5):243-247. doi: 10.1053/j.semdp.2020.03.003. Epub 2020 Apr 17.


Poorly differentiated thyroid carcinoma (PDTC) is an aggressive form of follicular cell derived thyroid carcinoma with a prognosis intermediate between the indolent well differentiated thyroid carcinomas and the rapidly growing often fatal anaplastic carcinoma. While all investigators agree on the presence of this entity, there is disagreement in regard to its definition. In 2006, a set of criteria based solely on mitotic index ≥5/10 high power fields and/or tumor necrosis was proposed by a group of researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC criteria) in New York. A year later, alternative diagnostic criteria of PDTC, so called the Turin proposal, were advocated by an international consensus group. The Turin proposal requires three criteria: 1) solid/trabecular/insular growth pattern; 2) absence of nuclear features of papillary carcinoma; and 3) at least one of the following three features: mitotic index ≥3/10 high power fields (HPFs), necrosis, or convoluted nuclei. In this review, we summarize the histology, diagnostic criteria (Turin proposal and MSKCC criteria) with their pros and cons, the prognostic factors, and molecular profile of PDTC, aiming to provide a practical and compreshensive review of this challenging entity.

Keywords: BRAF; Insular carcinoma; Poorly differentiated thyroid carcinoma; RAS; Turin proposal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*