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Open access

Ekaterina Kim, Ekaterina Bondarenko, Anna Eremkina, Petr Nikiforovich, and Natalia Mokrysheva

Summary

A 59-year-old male presented with an accidental thyroid mass in 2022. Ultrasound and CT scan showed a nodule 5.2 × 4.9 × 2.8 cm (EU-TIRADS 4) in the right lobe of the thyroid gland. Taking into account the results of the fine needle aspiration biopsy (Bethesda V), intrathyroid localization, and absence of clinical symptoms, a malignant tumor of the thyroid gland was suspected. The patient underwent total thyroidectomy using fluorescence angiography with indocyanine green, and two pairs of intact parathyroid glands were visualized in typical localization. Unexpected histological and immunohistochemistry examinations revealed parathyroid carcinoma. Due to the asymptomatic course of the disease and atypical localization of parathyroid tumor, primary hyperparathyroidism was not suspected before the surgery. The diagnosis of asymptomatic intrathyroid parathyroid cancer is a serious diagnostic challenge for a wide range of specialists.

Learning points

  • Parathyroid cancer is a rare disease that may be asymptomatic.

  • Intrathyroidal localization of parathyroid carcinoma is casuistic and challenging for diagnosis, and the treatment strategy is not well defined.

  • Preoperative parathyroid hormone and serum calcium testing are recommended for patients with solid thyroid nodules (Bethesda IV–V).

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.

Open access

Seong Keat Cheah, Chad Ramese Bisambar, Deborah Pitfield, Olivier Giger, Rogier ten Hoopen, Jose-Ezequiel Martin, Graeme R Clark, Soo-Mi Park, Craig Parkinson, Benjamin G Challis, and Ruth T Casey

Summary

A 38-year-old female was identified as carrying a heterozygous pathogenic MEN1 variant (c.1304delG) through predictive genetic testing, following a diagnosis of familial hyperparathyroidism. Routine screening for parathyroid and pituitary disease was negative. However, cross-sectional imaging by CT revealed a 41 mm pancreatic tail mass. Biopsy via endoscopic ultrasound confirmed the lesion to be a well-differentiated (grade 1) pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) with MIB1<1%. Biochemically, hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia was confirmed following an overnight fast, which was subsequently managed by diet alone prior to definitive surgery. Pre-operative work-up with octreotide SPECT CT demonstrated avid tracer uptake in the pancreatic lesion and, unexpectedly, a focal area of uptake in the left breast. Further investigation, and subsequent mastectomy, confirmed ductal carcinoma in situ pT2 (23 mm) grade 1, N0 (ER positive; HER2 negative). Following mastectomy, our patient underwent a successful distal pancreatectomy to resect the pNET. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the MEN1 locus was found in both the breast tumour and pNET, thereby in keeping with a 'two-hit' hypothesis of oncogenesis, a suggestive but non-definitive clue for causation. To obtain further support for a causative relationship between MEN1 and breast cancer, we undertook a detailed review of the published literature which overall supports the notion that breast cancer is a MEN1-related malignancy that presents at a younger age and histologically, is typically of ductal subtype. Currently, clinical guidance regarding breast cancer surveillance in MEN1 does not exist and further research is required to establish a clinical and cost-effective surveillance strategy).

Learning points

  • We describe a case of pNET and breast cancer diagnosed at a young age of 38 years in a patient who is heterozygous for a pathogenic MEN1 variant. Loss of the wild-type allele was seen in both breast tissue and pNET specimen.

  • Breast cancer may be an under-recognised MEN1-associated malignancy that presents at a younger age than in the general population with a relative risk of 2–3.

  • Further research is required to determine the cost-effectiveness of breast cancer surveillance approach at a younger age in MEN1 patients relative to the general population .

Open access

Marina Tsoli, Anna Angelousi, Dimitra Rontogianni, Constantine Stratakis, and Gregory Kaltsas

Summary

Parathyroid carcinoma is an extremely rare endocrine malignancy that accounts for less than 1% of cases of primary hyperparathyroidism. We report a 44-year-old woman who presented with fatigue and diffuse bone pain. Laboratory findings revealed highly elevated serum calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels and a 4.5 × 3 × 2.5 cm cystic lesion in the lower pole of the right thyroid lobe that was shown histologically to be a parathyroid carcinoma. Ten years later, the patient developed brain and pulmonary metastases and recurrence of PTH-related hypercalcemia. Treatment of hypercalcemia along with localized radiotherapy and various chemotherapy regimens failed to induce a biochemical or radiological response. In conclusion, parathyroid carcinoma is a rare neoplasia that may develop metastases even after prolonged follow-up, for which there is no evidence-based treatment besides surgery. Different chemotherapeutic schemes did not prove to be of any benefit in our case highlighting the need for registering such patients to better understand tumor biology and develop specific treatment.

Learning points:

  • Metastases can develop many years after parathyroid cancer diagnosis.

  • Surgery is the only curative treatment for parathyroid carcinoma.

  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy prove to be ineffective in parathyroid cancer treatment.

  • Patient registering is required in order to delineate underlining pathology and offer specific treatment.

Open access

Yasutaka Takeda, Yukihiro Fujita, Kentaro Sakai, Tomoe Abe, Tomonobu Nakamura, Tsuyoshi Yanagimachi, Hidemitsu Sakagami, Jun Honjo, Atsuko Abiko, Yuichi Makino, and Masakazu Haneda

Summary

MEN1-associated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) may potentially express distinct hormones, but the mechanism has not been elucidated. Transcription factors such as MafA and Pdx1 have been identified to lead to beta cell differentiation, while Arx and Brn4 to alpha cell differentiation in developing pancreas. We hypothesized those transcription factors are important to produce specific hormones in pNETs, similarly to developing pancreas, and examined the expression of transcription factors in a case of MEN1 who showed immunohistological coexistence of several hormone-producing pNETs including insulinoma. A 70-year-old woman was found to manifest hypoglycemia with non-suppressed insulinemia and hypercalcemia with elevated PTH level. She was diagnosed as MEN1 based on the manifestation of primary hyperparathyroidism, pituitary adenoma and insulinoma, with genetic variation of MEN1 gene. She had pylorus-preserving pancreaticoduodenectomy because CT scan and SACI test indicated that insulinoma was localized in the head of the pancreas. Histopathological finding was MEN1-associated NET, G1. Interestingly, immunohistological examination of the resected pancreas revealed that two insulinomas, a glucagon-positive NET and a multiple hormone-positive NET coexisted. Hence, we examined the expression of transcription factors immunohistochemically to elucidate the role of the transcription factors in MEN1-associated hormone-producing pNETs. We observed homogeneous expressions of MafA and Pdx1 in insulinomas and Arx in glucagon-positive NET, respectively. Moreover, multiple hormone-positive NETs expressed several transcription factors heterogeneously. Collectively, our results suggested that transcription factors could play important roles in the production of specific hormones in MEN1-associated pNETs, similar to islet differentiation.

Learning points:

  • To date, it has been shown that different hormone-producing tumors coexist in MEN1-associated pNETs; however, the underlying mechanism of the hormone production in MEN1-associated pNETs has not been well elucidated.

  • Although this case presented symptomatic hypoglycemia, several hormone-producing pNETs other than insulinoma also coexisted in the pancreas.

  • Immunohistochemical analysis showed MafA and Pdx1 expressions distinctly in insulinoma, and Arx expression particularly in a glucagon-positive NET, while a multiple hormone-positive NET expressed MafA, Pdx1 and Arx.

  • Collectively, clinicians should consider that several hormone-producing pNETs may coexist in a MEN1 case and examine both endocrinological and histopathological analysis of pNETs, regardless of whether symptoms related to the excess of hormones are observed or not.

Open access

Rowena Speak, Jackie Cook, Barney Harrison, and John Newell-Price

Mutations of the rearranged during transfection (RET) proto-oncogene, located on chromosome 10q11.2, cause multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A). Patients with mutations at the codon 609 usually exhibit a high penetrance of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), but a sufficiently low penetrance of phaeochromocytoma that screening for this latter complication has been called to question. Patients with other RET mutations are at higher risk of younger age onset phaeochromocytoma if they also possess other RET polymorphisms (L769L, S836S, G691S and S904S), but there are no similar data for patients with 609 mutations. We investigated the unusual phenotypic presentation in a family with MEN2A due to a C609Y mutation in RET. Sanger sequencing of the entire RET-coding region and exon–intron boundaries was performed. Five family members were C609Y mutation positive: 3/5 initially presented with phaeochromocytoma, but only 1/5 had MTC. The index case aged 73 years had no evidence of MTC, but presented with phaeochromocytoma. Family members also possessed the G691S and S904S RET polymorphisms. We illustrate a high penetrance of phaeochromocytoma and low penetrance of MTC in patients with a RET C609Y mutation and polymorphisms G691S and S904S. These data highlight the need for life-long screening for the complications of MEN2A in these patients and support the role for the screening of RET polymorphisms for the purposes of risk stratification.

Learning points:

  • C609Y RET mutations may be associated with a life-long risk of phaeochromocytoma indicating the importance of life-long screening for this condition in patients with MEN2A.

  • C609Y RET mutations may be associated with a lower risk of MTC than often quoted, questioning the need for early prophylactic thyroid surgery discussion at the age of 5 years.

  • There may be a role for the routine screening of RET polymorphisms, and this is greatly facilitated by the increasing ease of access to next-generation sequencing.

Open access

Lara Ulrich, Graham Knee, and Colin Todd

Summary

Haemorrhage of a parathyroid adenoma is a rare clinical presentation. This report describes a previously fit and well 54-year-old woman who presented with acute neck swelling and pain with an overlying ecchymosis. Admission laboratory tests revealed a raised parathyroid hormone and hypercalcaemia. A computed tomography (CT) scan showed widespread anterior cervical haemorrhage and a lesion at the inferior pole of the left thyroid gland. A working diagnosis of spontaneous haemorrhage from a parathyroid adenoma was made. As she was haemodynamically stable, she was treated conservatively with a period of observation in hospital to monitor for signs of neck organ compression. Follow-up imaging with CT, ultrasound and sestamibi confirmed the likely source of haemorrhage as a parathyroid nodule with significant vascularity. The diagnosis was confirmed on histopathological analysis after elective surgical exploration of the neck 6 months after her presentation. This revealed a benign parathyroid adenoma with evidence of acute and chronic bleeding. The patient made a full recovery with immediate normalisation of her biochemistry post-operatively. Despite developing a hoarse voice in the immediate post-operative period, this resolved completely within 1 month. This case report provides further evidence to support a minimal delay for elective surgery after conservative management to reduce the risks associated with recurrent bleeding.

Learning points

  • Haemorrhage of a parathyroid adenoma should be a differential for all cases of acute cervical swelling or ecchymosis with no precipitating factor.

  • The clerking should identify any risk factors for endocrine disease.

  • Blood tests to screen for abnormal parathyroid biochemistry should be performed on admission.

  • Detailed imaging of the neck is essential to identify the source of haemorrhage and risk of compression to vital neck organs.

  • Conservative management is a suitable option for patients who remain haemodynamically stable but all should undergo a period of observation in hospital.

  • Conservatively managed patients should be considered for definitive surgical exploration within a month of presentation to avoid the risks of recurrent bleeding.

Open access

K Nadarasa, M Bailey, H Chahal, O Raja, R Bhat, C Gayle, A B Grossman, and M R Druce

Summary

We present the case of a patient with metastatic parathyroid carcinoma whose hypercalcaemia was medically managed through two pregnancies. The diagnosis was made when the patient presented with chronic knee pain and radiological findings consistent with a brown tumour, at the age of 30. Her corrected calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels were significantly elevated. Following localisation studies, a right parathyroidectomy was performed with histology revealing parathyroid carcinoma, adherent to thyroid tissue. Aged 33, following biochemical recurrence of disease, the patient underwent a second operation. A subsequent CT and FDG–PET revealed bibasal pulmonary metastases. Aged 35, the patient was referred to our unit for treatment of persistent hypercalcaemia. The focus of treatment at this time was debulking metastatic disease using radiofrequency ablation. Despite advice to the contrary, the patient conceived twice while taking cinacalcet. Even though there are limited available data regarding the use of cinacalcet in pregnancy, both pregnancies continued to term with the delivery of healthy infants, using intensive medical management for persistent hypercalcaemia.

Learning points

  • Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism.

  • Hypercalcaemia during pregnancy can result in significant complications for both the mother and the foetus.

  • The use of high-dose cinacalcet in pregnancy has been shown, in this case, to aid in the management of resistant hypercalcaemia without teratogenicity.