Medullary thyroid cancer with undetectable serum calcitonin

Erika F. Brutsaert, Adam J. Gersten, Andrew B. Tassler, Martin I. Surks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Context: Calcitonin is a sensitive biomarker that is used for diagnosis and follow-up in medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). In patients with tumors > 1 cm, it is uncommon for preoperative serum calcitonin to be in the normal laboratory reference range in patients with MTC, and even more unusual for serum calcitonin to be undetectable. The Case: A 39-year-old woman was found to have a left thyroid nodule on magnetic resonance imaging done for neck pain. Ultrasound and fine-needle aspiration biopsy were performed, and cytopathology was positive for malignant cells. The cells also had features suggestive of a neuroendocrine tumor, and the specimen was immune-stained with calcitonin. There was positive immunoreactivity for calcitonin in isolated cells of the cytospin, highly favoring a diagnosis of MTC. Serum calcitonin was < 2 pg/mL (<6 pg/mL), and serum carcinoembryonic antigen was 3.1 ng/mL (<5.2 ng/mL). Given the low calcitonin levels, procalcitonin was also tested and was elevated at 0.21 ng/mL (< 0.1 ng/mL). The patient subsequently underwent a total thyroidectomy and central and ipsilateral lateral lymph node dissection. Histopathology confirmed a 2.6 × 2.0 × 1.2-cm MTC, with strong, diffuse immunostaining for calcitonin. Postoperatively, serum calcitonin has remained undetectable, carcinoembryonic antigen has remained within the reference range, and procalcitonin has become undetectable. Conclusions: We present a rare case of a patient with MTC with undetectable preoperative serum calcitonin, whose tumor demonstrated strong, diffuse immunohistochemical staining for calcitonin. We discuss the possible pathogenesis of calcitonin-negative MTC and the challenges in following patients with this condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-341
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume100
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

Fingerprint

Calcitonin
Serum
Tumors
Carcinoembryonic Antigen
Medullary Thyroid cancer
Reference Values
Dissection
Thyroid Nodule
Neuroendocrine Tumors
Neck Pain
Biopsy
Thyroidectomy
Biomarkers
Magnetic resonance
Fine Needle Biopsy
Lymph Node Excision
Needles
Neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Medullary thyroid cancer with undetectable serum calcitonin. / Brutsaert, Erika F.; Gersten, Adam J.; Tassler, Andrew B.; Surks, Martin I.

In: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol. 100, No. 2, 01.02.2015, p. 337-341.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Context: Calcitonin is a sensitive biomarker that is used for diagnosis and follow-up in medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). In patients with tumors > 1 cm, it is uncommon for preoperative serum calcitonin to be in the normal laboratory reference range in patients with MTC, and even more unusual for serum calcitonin to be undetectable. The Case: A 39-year-old woman was found to have a left thyroid nodule on magnetic resonance imaging done for neck pain. Ultrasound and fine-needle aspiration biopsy were performed, and cytopathology was positive for malignant cells. The cells also had features suggestive of a neuroendocrine tumor, and the specimen was immune-stained with calcitonin. There was positive immunoreactivity for calcitonin in isolated cells of the cytospin, highly favoring a diagnosis of MTC. Serum calcitonin was < 2 pg/mL (<6 pg/mL), and serum carcinoembryonic antigen was 3.1 ng/mL (<5.2 ng/mL). Given the low calcitonin levels, procalcitonin was also tested and was elevated at 0.21 ng/mL (< 0.1 ng/mL). The patient subsequently underwent a total thyroidectomy and central and ipsilateral lateral lymph node dissection. Histopathology confirmed a 2.6 × 2.0 × 1.2-cm MTC, with strong, diffuse immunostaining for calcitonin. Postoperatively, serum calcitonin has remained undetectable, carcinoembryonic antigen has remained within the reference range, and procalcitonin has become undetectable. Conclusions: We present a rare case of a patient with MTC with undetectable preoperative serum calcitonin, whose tumor demonstrated strong, diffuse immunohistochemical staining for calcitonin. We discuss the possible pathogenesis of calcitonin-negative MTC and the challenges in following patients with this condition.",
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N2 - Context: Calcitonin is a sensitive biomarker that is used for diagnosis and follow-up in medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). In patients with tumors > 1 cm, it is uncommon for preoperative serum calcitonin to be in the normal laboratory reference range in patients with MTC, and even more unusual for serum calcitonin to be undetectable. The Case: A 39-year-old woman was found to have a left thyroid nodule on magnetic resonance imaging done for neck pain. Ultrasound and fine-needle aspiration biopsy were performed, and cytopathology was positive for malignant cells. The cells also had features suggestive of a neuroendocrine tumor, and the specimen was immune-stained with calcitonin. There was positive immunoreactivity for calcitonin in isolated cells of the cytospin, highly favoring a diagnosis of MTC. Serum calcitonin was < 2 pg/mL (<6 pg/mL), and serum carcinoembryonic antigen was 3.1 ng/mL (<5.2 ng/mL). Given the low calcitonin levels, procalcitonin was also tested and was elevated at 0.21 ng/mL (< 0.1 ng/mL). The patient subsequently underwent a total thyroidectomy and central and ipsilateral lateral lymph node dissection. Histopathology confirmed a 2.6 × 2.0 × 1.2-cm MTC, with strong, diffuse immunostaining for calcitonin. Postoperatively, serum calcitonin has remained undetectable, carcinoembryonic antigen has remained within the reference range, and procalcitonin has become undetectable. Conclusions: We present a rare case of a patient with MTC with undetectable preoperative serum calcitonin, whose tumor demonstrated strong, diffuse immunohistochemical staining for calcitonin. We discuss the possible pathogenesis of calcitonin-negative MTC and the challenges in following patients with this condition.

AB - Context: Calcitonin is a sensitive biomarker that is used for diagnosis and follow-up in medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). In patients with tumors > 1 cm, it is uncommon for preoperative serum calcitonin to be in the normal laboratory reference range in patients with MTC, and even more unusual for serum calcitonin to be undetectable. The Case: A 39-year-old woman was found to have a left thyroid nodule on magnetic resonance imaging done for neck pain. Ultrasound and fine-needle aspiration biopsy were performed, and cytopathology was positive for malignant cells. The cells also had features suggestive of a neuroendocrine tumor, and the specimen was immune-stained with calcitonin. There was positive immunoreactivity for calcitonin in isolated cells of the cytospin, highly favoring a diagnosis of MTC. Serum calcitonin was < 2 pg/mL (<6 pg/mL), and serum carcinoembryonic antigen was 3.1 ng/mL (<5.2 ng/mL). Given the low calcitonin levels, procalcitonin was also tested and was elevated at 0.21 ng/mL (< 0.1 ng/mL). The patient subsequently underwent a total thyroidectomy and central and ipsilateral lateral lymph node dissection. Histopathology confirmed a 2.6 × 2.0 × 1.2-cm MTC, with strong, diffuse immunostaining for calcitonin. Postoperatively, serum calcitonin has remained undetectable, carcinoembryonic antigen has remained within the reference range, and procalcitonin has become undetectable. Conclusions: We present a rare case of a patient with MTC with undetectable preoperative serum calcitonin, whose tumor demonstrated strong, diffuse immunohistochemical staining for calcitonin. We discuss the possible pathogenesis of calcitonin-negative MTC and the challenges in following patients with this condition.

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