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Open access

Nynne Emilie Hummelshøj, Gitte Dam, Lars Henning Pedersen, Astrid Hjelholt, and Gerda Elisabeth Villadsen

Summary

This rare case describes the course of a pregnancy in a patient with a disseminated small intestinal neuroendocrine tumor. The patient received treatment with first-generation somatostatin ligand receptor (SLR) every 4 weeks and had stable disease for several years before her pregnancy. First-generation SLR treatment was initially paused after detection of the pregnancy. During pregnancy, the patient experienced moderate gastro-intestinal discomfort and fatigue, which was considered predominantly pregnancy related. However, since symptoms could be linked to the patient’s cancer, treatment was resumed after the first trimester. Chromogranin-A measurements remained stable throughout pregnancy and was paralleled by the absence of diarrhea and only minor flushing. She gave birth by elective caesarean section in week 37 to a healthy baby. Subsequent follow up imaging immediately after and 10 months postpartum showed no disease progression. The safety profile of SLR treatment during pregnancy in the context of disseminated neuroendocrine tumors (NET) is discussed.

Learning points

  • Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NEN) are rare cancers often occurring in the gastro-intestinal tract or lungs.

  • Many patients with NEN live for several years with disseminated disease.

  • SLR treatment has been given to pregnant patients before; often patients with acromegaly. Pregnancies are reported uneventful.

  • This patient completed an uneventful pregnancy while receiving SLR treatment for disseminated neuroendocrine disease and gave birth to a healthy baby.

  • More research regarding long term effects and safety signals of SLR treatment during pregnancy are much needed.

Open access

Ziad Hussein, Marta Korbonits, Stephanie E Baldeweg, and Teng-Teng Chung

Summary

We observed a novel therapeutic response with cabergoline in a male patient with a dopamine-secreting head and neck paraganglioma (HNPGL), macroprolactinoma and germline succinate dehydrogenase C mutation (SDHC). The macroprolactinoma was treated with cabergoline which gave an excellent response. He was found to have raised plasma 3-methoxytyramine of 1014 pmol/L (NR: 0–180 pmol/L); but it was unclear if this was a drug-induced phenomenon from dopamine agonist (DA) therapy. Cabergoline was stopped for 4 weeks and the 3-methoxytyramine level increased significantly to 2185 pmol/L, suggesting a biochemical response of his HNPGL. Subsequently, Gallium-68 Dotatate PET and MRI (Gallium-68 Dotatate PET/MRI) demonstrated a second lesion in the sacrum. Both the HNPGL and metastatic sacral deposit received external beam radiotherapy with a good biochemical and radiological response.

Conclusion

Our case report highlights the rare potential of germline SDHC mutations causing metastatic paraganglioma and concurrent pituitary tumours. Cabergoline treatment may lower elevated 3-methoxytyramine levels and, therefore, mask the biochemical evidence of metastatic disease but also may have therapeutic relevance in dopamine-secreting pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas (PPGLs).

Learning points

  • Several neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) express dopamine D2 and D4 receptors. In this case report, cabergoline significantly reduced plasma 3-methoxytyramine level in a patient with functional HNPGL. Cabergoline might have therapeutic relevance in dopamine-secreting PPGLs.

  • Paragangliomas associated with SDHC mutation classically present with asymptomatic non-functional HNPGL and have rare metastatic potential.

  • The association of pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma and pituitary adenoma is now a well-described rare association (<1%), designated as the three P association. While the three P association is most commonly seen with succinate dehydrogenase B and D mutations, it has also been described in patients with SDHA and SDHC mutations.

  • Cabergoline treatment may lower elevated 3-methoxytyramine levels and mask the biochemical evidence of metastatic disease. Regular functional imaging with Gallium-68 Dotatate PET/MRI provides better evidence of metastatic disease.

Open access

Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni, Donato Iacovazzo, Jane Evanson, Anju Sahdev, Jacqueline Trouillas, Lorraine McAndrew, Tom R Kurzawinski, David Bryant, Khalid Hussain, Satya Bhattacharya, and Márta Korbonits

Summary

A male patient with a germline mutation in MEN1 presented at the age of 18 with classical features of gigantism. Previously, he had undergone resection of an insulin-secreting pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) at the age of 10 years and had subtotal parathyroidectomy due to primary hyperparathyroidism at the age of 15 years. He was found to have significantly elevated serum IGF-1, GH, GHRH and calcitonin levels. Pituitary MRI showed an overall bulky gland with a 3 mm hypoechoic area. Abdominal MRI showed a 27 mm mass in the head of the pancreas and a 6 mm lesion in the tail. Lanreotide-Autogel 120 mg/month reduced GHRH by 45% and IGF-1 by 20%. Following pancreaticoduodenectomy, four NETs were identified with positive GHRH and calcitonin staining and Ki-67 index of 2% in the largest lesion. The pancreas tail lesion was not removed. Post-operatively, GHRH and calcitonin levels were undetectable, IGF-1 levels normalised and GH suppressed normally on glucose challenge. Post-operative fasting glucose and HbA1c levels have remained normal at the last check-up. While adolescent-onset cases of GHRH-secreting pNETs have been described, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of ectopic GHRH in a paediatric setting leading to gigantism in a patient with MEN1. Our case highlights the importance of distinguishing between pituitary and ectopic causes of gigantism, especially in the setting of MEN1, where paediatric somatotroph adenomas causing gigantism are extremely rare.

Learning points

  • It is important to diagnose gigantism and its underlying cause (pituitary vs ectopic) early in order to prevent further growth and avoid unnecessary pituitary surgery. The most common primary tumour sites in ectopic acromegaly include the lung (53%) and the pancreas (34%) (): 76% of patients with a pNET secreting GHRH showed a MEN1 mutation ().

  • Plasma GHRH testing is readily available in international laboratories and can be a useful diagnostic tool in distinguishing between pituitary acromegaly mediated by GH and ectopic acromegaly mediated by GHRH. Positive GHRH immunostaining in the NET tissue confirms the diagnosis.

  • Distinguishing between pituitary (somatotroph) hyperplasia secondary to ectopic GHRH and pituitary adenoma is difficult and requires specialist neuroradiology input and consideration, especially in the MEN1 setting. It is important to note that the vast majority of GHRH-secreting tumours (lung, pancreas, phaeochromocytoma) are expected to be visible on cross-sectional imaging (median diameter 55 mm) (). Therefore, we suggest that a chest X-ray and an abdominal ultrasound checking the adrenal glands and the pancreas should be included in the routine work-up of newly diagnosed acromegaly patients.

Open access

Le Tuan Linh, Nguyen Minh Duc, Hoang Tu Minh, Nguyen Ngoc Cuong, Vuong Thu Ha, Dao-Thi Luan, Thieu-Thi Tra My, and Bui Van Lenh

Summary

Primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumor (PHNET) is a rare type of neuroendocrine tumor (NET) that is also a primary hepatic tumor. Patients are present with almost no specific clinical symptoms and typically present with negative test results and atypical imaging characteristics; therefore, the differentiation of PHNET from other types of primary hepatic masses can be very difficult. In this article, we describe a case of PHNET that mimicked a liver helminth infection in a 57-year-old man. The diagnosis of PHNET in this patient was challenging, and the final diagnosis was based on imaging, histopathology features, and long-term follow-up.

Learning points

  • An uncommon type of neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is a primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumor (PHNET).

  • Primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumors are rare NET lesions found in the liver, characterized by non-specific clinical and imaging results, which can be easily confused with other liver lesions, including HCC and parasitic lesions.

  • To have a conclusive diagnosis and classification, a mixture of many medical assessment techniques, such as imaging, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, anatomy, including histopathology, and immunohistochemistry, is essential.

Open access

Ziadoon Faisal and Miguel Debono

Summary

In this case report, we describe the management of a patient who was admitted with an ectopic ACTH syndrome during the COVID pandemic with new-onset type 2 diabetes, neutrophilia and unexplained hypokalaemia. These three findings when combined should alert physicians to the potential presence of Cushing’s syndrome (CS). On admission, a quick diagnosis of CS was made based on clinical and biochemical features and the patient was treated urgently using high dose oral metyrapone thus allowing delays in surgery and rapidly improving the patient’s clinical condition. This resulted in the treatment of hyperglycaemia, hypokalaemia and hypertension reducing cardiovascular risk and likely risk for infection. Observing COVID-19 pandemic international guidelines to treat patients with CS has shown to be effective and offers endocrinologists an option to manage these patients adequately in difficult times.

Learning points

  • This case report highlights the importance of having a low threshold for suspicion and investigation for Cushing’s syndrome in a patient with neutrophilia and hypokalaemia, recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes especially in someone with catabolic features of the disease irrespective of losing weight.

  • It also supports the use of alternative methods of approaching the diagnosis and treatment of Cushing’s syndrome during a pandemic as indicated by international protocols designed specifically for managing this condition during Covid-19.

Open access

Joana Lima Ferreira, Bernardo Marques, C Willemien Menke-van der Houven van Oordt, Wouter W de Herder, Tessa Brabander, and Johannes Hofland

Summary

Middle ear adenomas with neuroendocrine features (ANEF) are rare, with an estimated 150 reported cases. They usually pursue an indolent clinical course. Four reported cases of middle ear ANEF with distant metastases were treated with surgery, external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and chemotherapy. To date, no successful systemic treatment for malignant behaviour of this rare tumour has been reported. Long-acting somatostatin analogues (SSAs) and peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) have been used in well-differentiated metastatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs), but their use has never been described in cases of metastatic middle ear ANEF. We report two patients with grade 1 middle ear ANEF treated with surgery and EBRT. They had stable disease for several years, until clinical symptoms appeared and extensive metastases were detected on 68Ga-DOTA0-Tyr3-octreotate (DOTATATE) PET/CT. Treatment with long-acting SSA was started, with stable disease for 1 year. Afterwards, despite undergoing local treatments, both patients presented progressive disease. Due to high-uptake metastases at 68Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT, both cases underwent four cycles of PRRT with 177Lu-DOTATATE, which secured disease control and improvement of quality of life in both. Similar to other well-differentiated NETs, SSA and PRRT could constitute efficacious therapeutic options in metastatic middle ear ANEF. Its neuroendocrine differentiation, potential to metastasize and somatostatin receptor type 2 expression prompt consideration and management of this disease as a neuroendocrine neoplasm.

Learning points

  • Our cases oppose the 2017 WHO classification of middle ear adenoma with neuroendocrine features as a benign disease.

  • This entity warrants long-term follow-up, as local recurrence or persistence of disease is reported in up to 18% of surgically treated patients.

  • PET/CT scan with 68Ga-labelled somatostatin analogues (SSA) can be used for staging of metastatic middle ear adenoma with neuroendocrine features.

  • Unlabelled SSA and peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) with radiolabelled SSA can be the first systemic therapeutic options for patients with advanced middle ear adenoma with neuroendocrine features.

Open access

Matthew Seymour, Thomas Robertson, Jason Papacostas, Kirk Morris, Jennifer Gillespie, Debra Norris, and Emma L Duncan

Summary

A 34-year-old woman presented 18 months post-partum with blurred vision, polyuria, amenorrhoea, headache and general malaise. Comprehensive clinical examination showed left superior temporal visual loss only. Initial investigations revealed panhypopituitarism and MRI demonstrated a sellar mass involving the infundibulum and hypothalamus. Lymphocytic hypophysitis was suspected and high dose glucocorticoids were commenced along with desmopressin and thyroxine. However, her vision rapidly deteriorated. At surgical biopsy, an irresectable grey amorphous mass involving the optic chiasm was identified. Histopathology was initially reported as granulomatous hypophysitis. Despite the ongoing treatment with glucocorticoids, her vision worsened to light detection only. Histopathological review revised the diagnosis to partially treated lymphoma. A PET scan demonstrated avid uptake in the pituitary gland in addition to splenic involvement, lymphadenopathy above and below the diaphragm, and a bone lesion. Excisional node biopsy of an impalpable infraclavicular lymph node confirmed nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. Hyper-CVAD chemotherapy was commenced, along with rituximab; fluid-balance management during chemotherapy (with its requisite large fluid volumes) was extremely complex given her diabetes insipidus. The patient is now in clinical remission. Panhypopituitarism persists; however, her vision has recovered sufficiently for reading large print and driving. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of Hodgkin lymphoma presenting initially as hypopituitarism.

Learning points

  • Lymphoma involving the pituitary is exceedingly rare and, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma presenting as hypopituitarism.

  • There are myriad causes of a sellar mass and this case highlights the importance of reconsidering the diagnosis when patients fail to respond as expected to appropriate therapeutic intervention.

  • This case highlights the difficulties associated with managing panhypopituitary patients receiving chemotherapy, particularly when this involves large volumes of i.v. hydration fluid.

Open access

Kieran Palmer, Scott Weerasuriya, Benjamin Whitelaw, and Rajaventhan Srirajaskanthan

Summary

We report a rare case of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES), precipitated by ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, in a patient with a metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour. A 55-year-old female presented as a hypertensive emergency with seizures and severe biochemical disturbance, including alkalosis, hypokalaemia and hyperglycaemia. MRI showed vasogenic oedema in the parieto-occipital region, consistent with a diagnosis of PRES. She had a significantly raised serum cortisol (>6000 nmol/L) which did not suppress with dexamethasone. Plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentrations were neither suppressed nor raised but were consistently within the normal reference range. The unexpected finding of a normal ACTH may be explained by either tumour secretion of unmeasured ACTH-related peptides, immunoassay antibody interference or episodic ACTH secretion. PRES is usually reversible with prompt and appropriate treatment. Hypercortisolism associated PRES is rare and may be associated with a worse outcome.

Learning points

  • PRES secondary to ectopic Cushing’s syndrome is very rare.

  • PRES in this context may indicate a worse prognosis.

  • In ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, if the serum ACTH level is normal, consider testing for ACTH-related peptides or interfering antibodies.

  • Further research is required to establish the best treatment approach and to improve patients’ outcomes.

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

Rachel Wurth, Abhishek Jha, Crystal Kamilaris, Anthony J Gill, Nicola Poplawski, Paraskevi Xekouki, Martha M Quezado, Karel Pacak, Constantine A Stratakis, and Fady Hannah-Shmouni

Summary

Succinate dehydrogenase deficiency has been associated with several neoplasias, including renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and those associated with hereditary paraganglioma (PGL)/ pheochromocytoma (PHEO) syndromes, Carney dyad, and Carney triad. Carney triad is a rare multitumoral syndrome characterized by co-existing PGL, gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and pulmonary chondroma (CHO). We report a case of a 57-year-old male who presented with para-aortic and gastroesophogeal masses, and a right renal superior pole lesion, which were classified as multiple PGLs, a GIST, and a clear cell renal carcinoma, respectively, on pathology following surgical resection. Additionally, a CHO was diagnosed radiologically, although no biopsy was performed. A diagnosis of Carney triad was made. SDHB immunohistochemical staining was negative for the PGL and the GIST, indicating SDH-deficiency. Interestingly, the renal cell carcinoma (RCC) stained positive for both SDHB and SDHA. Subsequent genetic screening of SDH subunit genes revealed a germline inactivating heterozygous SDHA pathogenic variant (c.91 C>T, p.R31X). Loss of heterozygosity was not detected at the tumor level for the RCC, which likely indicated the SDHA variant would not be causative of the RCC, but could still predispose to the development of neoplasias. To the knowledge of the authors this is the first reported case of an SDHA pathogenic variant in a patient with Carney triad complicated by RCC.

Learning points

  • The succinate dehydrogenase enzyme is encoded by four subunit genes (SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD; collectively referred to as SDHx), which have been implicated in several neoplasias and are classified as tumor suppressor genes.

  • Carney triad is a rare multiple-neoplasia syndrome presenting as an association of PGLs, GISTs, and CHOs.

  • Carney triad is most commonly associated with hypermethylation of SDHC as demonstrated in tumor tissue, but approximately 10% of cases are due to pathogenic SDHx variants.

  • Although SDHB pathogenic variants are most commonly reported in SDH-deficient renal cell carcinoma, SDHA disease-causing variants have been reported in rare cases.