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Open access

Evangelos Karvounis, Ioannis Zoupas, Dimitra Bantouna, Rodis D Paparodis, Roxani Efthymiadou, Christina Ioakimidou, and Christos Panopoulos

Summary

Large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) is a rare neuroendocrine prostatic malignancy. It usually arises after androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), while de novo cases are even more infrequent, with only six cases described. The patient was a 78-year-old man with no history of ADT who presented with cervical lymphadenopathy. Diagnostic approaches included PET/CT, MRI, CT scans, ultrasonography, biopsies, and cytological and immunohistochemical evaluations. Results showed a poorly differentiated carcinoma in the thyroid gland accompanied by cervical lymph node enlargement. Thyroid surgery revealed LCNEC metastasis to the thyroid gland. Additional metastases were identified in both the adrenal glands. Despite appropriate treatment, the patient died of the disease. De novo LCNEC of the prostate is a rare, highly aggressive tumor with a poor prognosis. It is resistant to most therapeutic agents, has a high metastatic potential, and is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage. Further studies are required to characterize this tumor.

Learning points

  • De novo LCNECs of the prostate gland can metastasize almost anywhere in the body, including the thyroid and adrenal glands.

  • LCNECs of the prostate are usually associated with androgen-depriving therapy, but de novo cases are also notable and should be accounted for.

  • Further studies are required to fully understand and treat LCNECs more effectively.

Open access

Omayma Elshafie, Samir Hussein, Moza Al Kalbani, Aisha Al Hamadani, Abir Bou Khalil, and Nicholas Woodhouse

Summary

A 33-year-old female presented in 2013 with left flank pain. Ultrasound and MRI pelvis showed a complex mass 9 × 7 cm arising from the left ovary suggestive of ovarian torsion. She underwent a laparoscopic cystectomy, but the patient was lost to follow-up. Three years later, she presented with abdominal distension. Ultrasound and CT scan revealed a solid left ovarian mass with ascites and multiple peritoneal metastasis. Investigations showed elevated CA 125, CA 19-9. Ovarian malignancy was suspected. She underwent total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy on November 2016. The histopathology confirmed a well-differentiated thyroid cancer of ovarian origin with features of a papillary follicular variant without evidence of ovarian cancer and the thyroglobulin (Tg) level was elevated, more than 400 consistent with the diagnosis of malignant struma ovarii. The follow-up post-surgery showed normalization of CA 125, CA 19-9 and Tg. The patient underwent total thyroidectomy on January 2017. The histology was benign excluding thyroid cancer metastases to the ovary. She was started on thyroxine suppression, following which she received two ablation doses 131iodine (131I) each 5.3 GBq. The Tg remains slightly elevated at less than 10. 131I WBS showed no residual neck uptake and no distant avid metastasis. She was planned for molecular analysis which may indicate disease severity. We describe a case of malignant struma ovarii with widespread metastatic dissemination and a good response to surgery and 131I treatment without recurrence after 5 years of follow-up. The Tg remains slightly elevated indicating minimal stable residual disease.

Learning points

  • Malignant struma ovarii is a rare disease; diagnosis is difficult and management is not well defined.

  • Presentation may mimic advanced carcinoma of the ovary.

  • Predominant sites of metastasis are adjacent pelvic structures.

  • Thyroidectomy and 131iodine therapy should be considered. The management should be similar to that of metastatic thyroid cancer.

Open access

Iris Dirven, Bert Bravenboer, Steven Raeymaeckers, and Corina E Andreescu

Summary

The Covid-19 vaccination has been rapidly implemented among patients with cancer. We present two cases of patients with endocrine tumours who developed lymphadenopathy following a Covid-19 vaccination. In the case of a patient with multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) 1 syndrome, an 18-fluorodeoxyglucose (18FDG)-PET/CT showed positive axillary lymph nodes. Further work-up with fine needle aspiration showed a reactive pattern following a Covid-19 vaccination in the ipsilateral arm shortly before the 18FDG-PET/CT. A second patient, in follow-up for thyroid cancer, developed clinical supraclavicular lymphadenopathy after a Covid-19 vaccination. Follow-up ultrasound proved the lesion to be transient. These cases demonstrate lymphadenopathy in response to a Covid-19 vaccination in two patients susceptible to endocrine tumours and metastatic disease. With growing evidence about the pattern and occurrence of lymphadenopathy after mRNA Covid-19 vaccination, recommendations for scheduling and interpretation of imaging among cancer patients should be implemented to reduce equivocal findings, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment, while maintaining a good standard of care in oncological follow-up.

Learning points

  • Reactive lymphadenopathy is very common after an mRNA vaccination against Covid-19 and should be part of the differential diagnosis in patients with endocrine tumours who recently received a Covid-19 mRNA vaccination and present with an ipsilateral lymphadenopathy.

  • A good vaccine history is essential in assessing the risk for lymphadenopathy and if possible, screening imaging in patients with endocrine tumours should be postponed at least 6 weeks after the previous vaccination.

  • For now, a multidisciplinary care approach is recommended to determine the necessary steps in the diagnostic evaluation of lymphadenopathy in the proximity of a Covid-19 vaccination.

Open access

Jenny S W Yun, Chris McCormack, Michelle Goh, and Cherie Chiang

Summary

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. However, AN has been rarely reported in patients with insulinoma, a state of persistent hyperinsulinemia. We present a case of metastatic insulinoma, in whom AN manifested after the first cycle of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). A 40-year-old man was diagnosed with metastatic insulinoma after 5 months of symptomatic hypoglycemia. Within 1 month post PRRT, the patient became euglycemic but developed a pigmented, pruritic rash which was confirmed on biopsy as AN. We discuss the rare manifestation of AN in subjects with insulinoma, the role of insulin in the pathogenesis of AN, malignant AN in non-insulin-secreting malignancies and association with other insulin-resistant endocrinopathies such as acromegaly.

Learning points

  • Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis which is typically asymptomatic and associated with the hyperinsulinemic state.

  • Malignant AN can rapidly spread, cause pruritus and affect mucosa and the oral cavity.

  • AN is extremely rare in patients with insulinoma despite marked hyperinsulinemia.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy might have triggered TGF-α secretion in this subject which led to malignant AN.

  • Rapid spread or unusual distribution of pruritic AN warrants further investigation to exclude underlying malignancy.

Open access

Eugénie Van Mieghem, Valent Intan-Goey, Wendi Buffet, Martin Lammens, Pieter Van Loo, and Pascale Abrams

Summary

Pituitary carcinoma is a rare type of malignancy and only accounts for 0.1–0.2% of all pituitary tumours. Most pituitary carcinomas are hormonally active and they are mostly represented by corticotroph and lactotroph carcinomas. Corticotroph carcinoma can present as symptomatic Cushing’s disease or can evolve from silent corticotroph adenoma which is not associated with clinical or biochemical evidence of hypercortisolism. We hereby present a case of a bone-metastasized corticotroph pituitary carcinoma masquerading as an ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) syndrome in a patient with a history of a non-functioning pituitary macro-adenoma. Our patient underwent two transsphenoidal resections of the primary pituitary tumour followed by external beam radiation therapy. Under hydrocortisone substitution therapy she developed ACTH-dependent hypercortisolism without arguments for recurrence on pituitary MRI and without central-to-peripheral ACTH-gradient on inferior petrosal sinus sampling, both suggesting ectopic production. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with an ACTH-secreting vertebral metastasis originating from the primary pituitary tumour. This case report demonstrates the complex pathophysiology of pituitary carcinoma and the long diagnostic work-up. Certain features in pituitary adenoma should raise the suspicion of malignancy.

Learning points

  • The diagnosis of pituitary carcinoma can only be made based on documented metastasis, therefore, due to the often long latency period between the detection of the primary tumour and the occurrence of metastasis, the diagnostic work-up most often spans over multiple years.

  • Pituitary carcinoma including corticotroph carcinoma is very rare in contrast to pituitary adenoma and only accounts for 0.1–0.2% of all pituitary tumours.

  • Histopathology in pituitary adenoma should certainly accomplish the following goals: accurate tumour subtyping and assessment of tumoural proliferative potential.

  • Repeated recurrence of pituitary adenoma after surgical resection, a discrepancy between biochemical and radiological findings, resistance to medical and radiation therapy, and silent tumours becoming functional are all hallmarks of pituitary carcinoma.

  • Silent corticotroph adenomas are non-functioning pituitary adenomas that arise from T-PIT lineage adenohypophyseal cells and that can express adrenocorticotropic hormone on immunohistochemistry, but are not associated with biochemical or clinical evidence of hypercortisolism. Silent corticotroph adenomas exhibit a more aggressive clinical behaviour than other non-functioning adenomas.

  • Treatment options for corticotroph carcinoma include primary tumour resection, radiation therapy, medical therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes bilateral adrenalectomy is necessary to achieve sufficient control of the cortisol excess.

Open access

David Kishlyansky, Gregory Kline, Amita Mahajan, Konstantin Koro, Janice L Pasieka, and Patrick Champagne

Summary

An adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing pheochromocytoma (PCC)/paraganglioma is the cause of ectopic Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in 5.2% of cases reported in the literature. We present a previously healthy 43-year-old woman admitted to our hospital with cushingoid features and hypertensive urgency (blood pressure = 200/120 mmHg). Her 24-h urinary free cortisol was >4270 nmol/day (reference range (RR) = 100–380 nmol/day) with a plasma ACTH of 91.5 pmol/L (RR: 2.0–11.5 pmol/L). Twenty-four-hour urinary metanephrines were increased by 30-fold. Whole-body CT demonstrated a 3.7-cm left adrenal mass with a normal-appearing right adrenal gland. Sellar MRI showed a 5-mm sellar lesion. MIBG scan revealed intense uptake only in the left adrenal mass. She was managed pre-operatively with ketoconazole and phenoxybenzamine and underwent an uneventful left laparoscopic adrenalectomy, which resulted in biochemical resolution of her hypercortisolemia and catecholamine excess. Histology demonstrated a PCC (Grading System for Adrenal Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma score 5) with positive ACTH staining by immunohistochemistry. A PCC gene panel showed no mutations and there has been no evidence of recurrence at 24 months. This case highlights the difficult nature of localizing the source of CS in the setting of a co-existing PCC and sellar mass.

Learning points

  • An adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing pheochromocytoma (PCC) is an important item to be considered in all patients presenting with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome (CS).

  • In exceptionally rare cases, patients with ectopic CS may present with multiple lesions, and a systematic approach considering all potential sources is crucial to avoid misdiagnosis.

  • CS with a large adrenal mass but lacking contralateral adrenal atrophy should raise suspicion of an ACTH-dependent process.

  • In patients with clinical suspicion of PCC, clinicians should be mindful of the use of steroids and beta-blockers without appropriate alpha blockade as they may precipitate an adrenergic crisis.

Open access

Jay Nguyen and Dennis Joseph

Summary

Autonomous thyroid adenomas are caused by activating mutations in the genes encoding the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) or mutations in the Gas subunit of the TSHR. Nodules with suspicious sonographic features should be submitted to fine-needle aspiration. Additional molecular testing may be performed to characterize the thyroid nodule’s malignant potential further. We present a patient who underwent whole-transcriptome RNA-sequencing that indicated a TSHR I568T mutation after an ultrasound showed suspicious sonographic features and fine-needle aspiration was ‘suspicious for malignancy’. The patient underwent thyroid resection and was found to have a locally invasive classical papillary thyroid carcinoma. Most reports of TSHR I568T mutation have been seen in patients with benign thyroid conditions. While there is insufficient data to suggest that the TSHR I568T mutation causes aggressive thyroid malignancy, we believe clinicians who identify the presence of this mutation on genome sequencing should be cautious about the possibility of locally invasive thyroid malignancy, especially when associated with Bethesda V cytopathology.

Learning points

  • Germline and somatic activating mutations in the genes coding for the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) have been frequently reported in familial and sporadic autonomous thyroid adenomas and non-autoimmune hyperthyroidism.

  • Most reports of TSHR I568T mutation have been detected in patients with benign thyroid conditions.

  • We present a patient who underwent whole-transcriptome RNA-sequencing that indicated a TSHR I568T mutation and subsequently underwent thyroid resection and was found to have a locally invasive classical papillary thyroid carcinoma.

  • Clinicians who identify the presence of TSHR I568T mutation on genome sequencing should be cautious about the possibility of locally invasive thyroid malignancy, especially when associated with Bethesda V cytopathology.

Open access

Adrian Po Zhu Li, Sheela Sathyanarayan, Salvador Diaz-Cano, Sobia Arshad, Eftychia E Drakou, Royce P Vincent, Ashley B Grossman, Simon J B Aylwin, and Georgios K Dimitriadis

Summary

A 49-year-old teacher presented to his general physician with lethargy and lower limb weakness. He had noticed polydipsia, polyuria, and had experienced weight loss, albeit with an increase in central adiposity. He had no concomitant illnesses and took no regular medications. He had hypercalcaemia (adjusted calcium: 3.34 mmol/L) with hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid hormone: 356 ng/L) and hypokalaemia (K: 2.7 mmol/L) and was admitted for i.v. potassium replacement. A contrast-enhanced CT chest/abdomen/pelvis scan revealed a well-encapsulated anterior mediastinal mass measuring 17 × 11 cm with central necrosis, compressing rather than invading adjacent structures. A neck ultrasound revealed a 2 cm right inferior parathyroid lesion. On review of CT imaging, the adrenals appeared normal, but a pancreatic lesion was noted adjacent to the uncinate process. His serum cortisol was 2612 nmol/L, and adrenocorticotrophic hormone was elevated at 67 ng/L, followed by inadequate cortisol suppression to 575 nmol/L from an overnight dexamethasone suppression test. His pituitary MRI was normal, with unremarkable remaining anterior pituitary biochemistry. His admission was further complicated by increased urine output to 10 L/24 h and despite three precipitating factors for the development of diabetes insipidus including hypercalcaemia, hypokalaemia, and hypercortisolaemia, due to academic interest, a water deprivation test was conducted. An 18flurodeoxyglucose-PET (FDG-PET) scan demonstrated high avidity of the mediastinal mass with additionally active bilateral superior mediastinal nodes. The pancreatic lesion was not FDG avid. On 68Ga DOTATE-PET scan, the mediastinal mass was moderately avid, and the 32 mm pancreatic uncinate process mass showed significant uptake. Genetic testing confirmed multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1.

Learning points

  • In young patients presenting with primary hyperparathyroidism, clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of other underlying endocrinopathies.

    In patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) and ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone syndrome (EAS), clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of this originating from a neoplasm above or below the diaphragm.

  • Although relatively rare compared with sporadic cases, thymic carcinoids secondary to MEN-1 may also be associated with EAS.

  • Electrolyte derangement, in particular hypokalaemia and hypercalcaemia, can precipitate mild nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

Open access

Liza Das, Usha Singh, Bhanu Malhotra, Sanjay Kumar Bhadada, Pulkit Rastogi, Paramjeet Singh, Pinaki Dutta, and Sameeksha Tadepalli

Summary

Thyroid eye disease (TED) is the most common extra-thyroidal manifestation in Graves’ disease (GD). Additional/concurrent/synchronous pathologies may be present, especially in elderly patients who present with atypical features such as non-axial (or eccentric) proptosis, absence of lid lag and restricted superior extra-ocular movements. A 70-year-old female presented with progressive proptosis of her left eye and diplopia. She was diagnosed with GD a year prior and initiated on carbimazole. On examination, she had eccentric proptosis, restricted superior extra-ocular movements and a palpable mass in the supero-temporal quadrant of the left eye. Her T3 (1.33 ng/mL) and T4 (8.85 µg/dL) were normal with carbimazole. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-receptor antibody was positive (3.15 IU/L, reference range <1.75). MRI revealed an enhancing lesion infiltrating the left superior rectus, with concurrent characteristic muscle belly involvement bilaterally. Orbital biopsy showed atypical lymphoid cells (CD20+), suggesting marginal zone lymphoma. CT thorax and abdomen, fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography and bone marrow examination were normal. The patient was administered orbital radiotherapy for her localised lymphoma and carbimazole was continued. TED is the most common cause of orbital involvement overall and in GD. However, additional or alternative pathology may be present which requires evaluation. MRI can be a useful adjunct in these patients. Orbital lymphoma needs to be staged with workup for disseminated disease. Radiotherapy is the treatment of choice for localized disease. The index case provides evidence for synchronous presentation of dual pathology and highlights the importance of astute clinical examination as well as keeps a low threshold for MRI in selected cases.

Learning points

  • Thyroid eye disease can co-exist with other ocular pathology, especially in elderly individuals.

  • Eccentric proptosis, absent lid lag and restriction of eye movements (suggesting tendon involvement) should alert towards the presence of alternative pathology.

  • Orbital imaging using MRI not only has greater sensitivity in diagnosing radiologically bilateral disease in patients who have unilateral involvement clinically but is also useful to identify concurrent neoplasms.

Open access

Said Darawshi, Mahmoud Darawshi, and Deeb Daoud Naccache

Severe hypocalcaemia in breast cancer with bone metastasis is a rare finding usually associated with an advanced stage of the disease. We report a case of a 45-year-old woman with a history of local ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, who presented with muscle tremors and general weakness. Hypocalcaemia was evident, with a positive Chvostek sign and a serum calcium level of 5.9 mg/dL (1.47 mmol/L), phosphorus 5.9 mg/dL (normal range: 2.3–4.7 mg/dL) with normal levels of albumin, magnesium and parathyroid hormone. High oral doses of alpha calcitriol and calcium with i.v. infusion of high calcium doses were instituted, altogether sufficient to maintain only mild hypocalcaemia. A whole-body CT revealed bone lesions along the axial skeleton. A biopsy from a bone lesion revealed a metastasis of breast carcinoma. With this pathological finding, leuprolide (GNRH analogue) and chlorambucil (alkylating agent) were initiated, followed by prompt tapering of infused calcium down to full discontinuation. Serum calcium was kept stable close to the low normal range by high doses of oral alpha calcitriol and calcium. This course raises suspicion that breast metastases to the skeleton caused tumour-induced hypocalcaemia by a unique mechanism. We assume that hypocalcaemia in this case was promoted by a combination of hypoparathyroidism and bone metastasis.

Learning points

  • Severe hypocalcaemia can a presenting symptom for breast cancer relapse.