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  • Unique/unexpected symptoms or presentations of a disease x
  • Endocrine-related cancer x
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R K Dharmaputra Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Department of Endocrinolgy and Diabetes, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Cairns Diabetes Centre, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, Gold Coast, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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C M Piesse Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Department of Endocrinolgy and Diabetes, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Cairns Diabetes Centre, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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S Chaubey Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Department of Endocrinolgy and Diabetes, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Cairns Diabetes Centre, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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A K Sinha Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Department of Endocrinolgy and Diabetes, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Cairns Diabetes Centre, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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H C Chiam Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Department of Surgery, Cairns Hospital, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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Summary

A 48-year-old Asian male, presented to the hospital for an elective total thyroidectomy in the context of 6.3 cm thyroid nodule. The fine needle aspiration cytology of the nodule confirmed papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) with some atypical histiocytes. He has a history of idiopathic arginine vasopressin deficiency (AVP-D) and has been taking oral DDAVP 100 µg daily, self-adjusting the dose based on thirst and polyuria. Additionally, he also has a history of recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax. His total thyroidectomy was aborted due to significant intraoperative bleeding, and his admission was further complicated by post-operative hyponatraemic seizure. Thyroid histology revealed the diagnosis of Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), and further investigation with contrast CT demonstrated multi-organ involvement of the thyroid, lungs, and bones.

Learning points

  • Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a condition that can affect one or more organ systems, including the pituitary, where it can present as AVP deficiency. Strict monitoring of fluid balance, as well as serial monitoring of serum sodium, is essential in all patients with AVP-D in the perioperative setting.

  • Iatrogenic hyponatraemic seizure is an uncommon but serious complication of DDAVP treatment in hospitalised patients with AVP-D. DDAVP dosing must be carefully monitored.

  • LCH with multisystem involvement is an important mimic for metastatic conditions, and histological diagnosis is essential to guide treatment and prognosis.

  • Although LCH without bone marrow involvement is unlikely to increase the risk of bleeding, its effect on tissue integrity may make surgery more challenging.

  • BRAF-V600E mutation is an important driver mutation and a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of LCH.

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John J Orrego Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA

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Joseph A Chorny Department of Pathology, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA

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Summary

Unlike medullary thyroid carcinomas, follicular cell-derived thyroid malignancies have rarely been associated with paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes. An ultrarare case of a middle-aged man with heavily treated broadly metastatic radioactive iodine-refractory widely invasive Hürthle cell carcinoma (HCC) of the thyroid with two synchronous paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes, T3 thyrotoxicosis and hypercalcemia of malignancy, is discussed here. The levothyroxine-induced T3 thyrotoxicosis was a gradual process that became more noticeable as the tumor burden, refractory to different modalities of therapy, expanded. The 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D-mediated hypercalcemia, on the other hand, developed in a manner of weeks, as it usually happens. It is important to emphasize that in patients with metastatic Hürthle cell and follicular carcinomas of the thyroid, on TSH suppressive therapy, the unexplained and progressive decline in FT4 and rise in FT3 levels, resulting in an elevated FT4/FT3 ratio, could be an indication of augmented type 1 (D1) and/or type 2 (D2) deiodinase expression in tumoral tissue, causing an increased conversion from the prohormone T4 into the active metabolite T3 via outer ring deiodination.

Learning points

  • Albeit extremely rare, some patients with thyroid cancer can present with more than one concomitant paraneoplastic syndrome.

  • Although medullary thyroid carcinoma is the thyroid malignancy that is usually associated with paraneoplastic endocrine syndromes, follicular cell-derived thyroid cancers have been rarely described as being the culprit.

  • In patients with metastatic Hürthle cell and follicular thyroid carcinomas, the unexplained and progressive decline in FT4 and rise in FT3 levels could be an indication of augmented type 1 (D1) and/or type 2 (D2) deiodinase expression in tumoral tissue, causing an increased conversion from T4 into T3 leading to T3 thyrotoxicosis.

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Andreia Amado Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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Elisabete Teixeira i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, R. Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
IPATIMUP - Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal

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Sule Canberk i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, R. Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
IPATIMUP - Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal

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Sofia Macedo i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, R. Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
IPATIMUP - Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar, Universidade do Porto, R. Jorge de Viterbo Ferreira 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal

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Bárbara Castro Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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Hugo Pereira Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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João Varanda Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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Susana Graça Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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Amélia Tavares Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, R. Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
IPATIMUP - Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal

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Carlos Soares Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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Maria João Oliveira Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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Manuel Oliveira Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

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Paula Soares i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, R. Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
IPATIMUP - Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal

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Manuel Sobrinho Simões i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, R. Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
IPATIMUP - Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal
Centro Hospitalar Universitário São João, Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal

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Antónia Afonso Póvoa Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova de Gaia/Espinho, Portugal, R. Conceição Fernandes S/N, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, R. Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
IPATIMUP - Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal

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Summary

We report a 61-year-old male patient without personal history of thyroid carcinoma or radiation exposure. In 2011, he presented with a cervical mass whose biopsy diagnosed a papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) in a lymph node metastasis (LNM). Total thyroidectomy with lymphadenectomy of central and ipsilateral compartment was performed. Histopathology identified a 2 mm follicular variant of PTC and LNM in 25/25 lymph nodes. The patient was treated with 150 mCi of radioactive iodine (RAI), followed by levothyroxine suppressive therapy. In 2016, a retrotracheal mass was diagnosed, suggesting local recurrence; patient was submitted to surgical excision and RAI therapy (120 mCi). Due to seizures, in 2019, a brain CT was performed that diagnosed brain metastases. The patient underwent debulking of the main lesion. Histopathology analysis confirmed a metastatic lesion with variated morphology: classical PTC and follicular pattern and hobnail and tall cell features. Molecular analysis revealed BRAFV600E in LNM at presentation and BRAFV600E and TERT promoter (TERTp) mutations in the recurrent LNM and brain metastasis. Based upon this experience we review the reported cases of subcentimetric PTC with brain metastases and discuss the molecular progression of the present case.

Learning points

  • Papillary microcarcinoma (PMCs) usually have very good prognosis with low impact on patient survival.

  • PMCs presenting in elderly patients with LNM at diagnosis may carry a guarded outcome.

  • Brain metastasis although rare indicate aggressive phenotypic features.

  • Patient risk stratification of PMCs based on histopathological analysis and genetic testing may have a significant impact on prognosis providing therapeutic markers, that may predict disease progression and overall outcome.

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Ekaterina Kim Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Ekaterina Bondarenko Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Anna Eremkina Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Petr Nikiforovich Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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Natalia Mokrysheva Endocrinology Research Centre, Moscow, Russia

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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).

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Evangelos Karvounis Department of Endocrine Surgery, ‘Euroclinic’ Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Ioannis Zoupas Department of Endocrine Surgery, ‘Euroclinic’ Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Dimitra Bantouna Private Practice, Patras, Greece

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Rodis D Paparodis Private Practice, Patras, Greece
Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research, University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Toledo, Ohio, USA

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Roxani Efthymiadou PET-CT Department, Hygeia Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Christina Ioakimidou Department of Pathology

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Christos Panopoulos Department of Medical Oncology, ‘Euroclinic’ Hospital, Athens, Greece

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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.

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George Brown Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Anthony Mark Monaghan Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Richard Fristedt Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Emma Ramsey Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Ma’en Al-Mrayat Department of Endocrinology, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Rushda Rajak Department of Cellular Pathology, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Thomas Armstrong Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Arjun Takhar Department of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

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Summary

Vasoactive intestinal peptide-secreting tumours (VIPomas) are an extremely rare form of functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour with an estimated annual incidence of 1 in 10 million. Associated tumour hypersecretion of other peptides, including pancreatic polypeptide (PPomas), may also be seen. These malignancies classically present with a defined triad of refractory diarrhoea, hypokalaemia and metabolic acidosis known as Verner–Morrison syndrome. Diagnosis is frequently delayed, and the majority of patients will have metastatic disease at presentation. Symptoms are usually well controlled with somatostatin analogue administration. Here we report a case of metastatic mixed VIPoma/PPoma-induced diarrhoea causing renal failure so severe that ultrafiltration was required to recover adequate renal function.

Learning points

  • Profuse, watery diarrhoea is a common presenting complaint with a multitude of aetiologies. This, combined with the rarity of these tumours, makes diagnosis difficult and frequently delayed. A functional neuroendocrine tumour should be suspected when diarrhoea is unusually extreme, prolonged and common causes have been promptly excluded.

  • These patients are likely to be profoundly unwell on presentation. They are extremely hypovolaemic with dangerous electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities. Aggressive initial rehydration and electrolyte replacement are imperative. A somatostatin analogue should be commenced as soon as the diagnosis is suspected.

  • This is an extreme example of Verner–Morrison syndrome. We are unaware of another case where renal failure secondary to diarrhoea and dehydration was so severe that renal replacement therapy was required to restore adequate renal function, further emphasising how critically unwell these patients can be.

  • Both the primary tumour and metastases showed a remarkably good and rapid response to somatostatin analogue administration. Cystic change and involution were noted on repeat imaging within days.

  • Prior to his illness, this patient was extremely high functioning with no medical history. His diagnosis was an enormous psychological shock, and the consideration and care for his psychological well-being were a crucial part of his overall management. It highlights the importance of a holistic approach to cancer care and the role of the clinical nurse specialist within the cancer multidisciplinary team.

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Jenny S W Yun Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Chris McCormack Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Michelle Goh Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Cherie Chiang Department of Internal Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

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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
Filippo Crimì Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Institute of Radiology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Giulio Barbiero Institute of Radiology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Irene Tizianel Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Endocrine Disease Unit, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Laura Evangelista Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Nuclear Medicine Unit, University-Hospital of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Filippo Ceccato Department of Medicine DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Endocrine Disease Unit, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

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Summary

A 61-year-old man went to the Emergency Department with left upper abdominal quadrant pain and low-grade fever, as well as a loss of weight (3 kg in 6 weeks). A solid-cystic lesion in the left adrenal lodge was discovered by abdominal ultrasonography. A slight increase in the serum amylase with normal lipase was observed, but there were no signs or symptoms of pancreatitis. A contrast-enhanced CT revealed a tumor that was suspected of adrenocortical cancer. Therefore, he was referred to the endocrine unit. The hormonal evaluation revealed no signs of excessive or inadequate adrenal secretion. To characterize the mass, an MRI was performed; the lesion showed an inhomogeneous fluid collection with peripheral wall contrast-enhancement, as well as a minor 18-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake at PET/CT images. The risk of primary adrenal cancer was minimal after the multidisciplinary discussion. An acute necrotic collection after focal pancreatitis was suspected, according to the characteristics of imaging. Both CT-guided drainage of the necrotic accumulation and laboratory analysis of the aspirated fluid confirmed the diagnosis.

Learning points

  • Different types of expansive processes can mimic adrenal incidentalomas.

  • Necrotic collection after acute focal pancreatitis could be misdiagnosed as an adrenal mass, since its CT characteristics could be equivocal.

  • MRI has stronger capacities than CT in differentiating complex lesions of the adrenal lodge.

  • A multidisciplinary approach is fundamental in the management of patients with a newly discovered adrenal incidentaloma and equivocal/suspicious imaging features (low lipid content and size >4 cm).

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Nikitas S Skarakis Unit of Endocrinology and Diabetes Center, ‘G. Gennimatas’ General Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Irene Papadimitriou Unit of Endocrinology and Diabetes Center, ‘G. Gennimatas’ General Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Labrini Papanastasiou Unit of Endocrinology and Diabetes Center, ‘G. Gennimatas’ General Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Sofia Pappa Department of Pathology, ‘G. Gennimatas’ General Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Anastasia Dimitriadi Department of Pathology, ‘G. Gennimatas’ General Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Ioannis Glykas Department of Urology, General Hospital of Athens ‘G Gennimatas’, Athens, Greece

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Konstantinos Ntoumas Department of Urology, General Hospital of Athens ‘G Gennimatas’, Athens, Greece

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Penelope Lampropoulou Department of Radiology, General Hospital of Athens ‘G Gennimatas’, Athens, Greece

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Theodora Kounadi Unit of Endocrinology and Diabetes Center, ‘G. Gennimatas’ General Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Summary

Juxtaglomerular cell tumour (JGCT) is an unusually encountered clinical entity. A 33-year-old man with severe long-standing hypertension and hypokalaemia is described. The patient also suffered from polyuria, polydipsia, nocturia and severe headaches. On admission, laboratory investigation revealed hypokalaemia, kaliuresis, high aldosterone and renin levels, and the abdomen CT identified a mass of 4 cm at the right kidney. Kidney function was normal. Following nephrectomy, the histological investigation revealed the presence of a JGCT. Immunostaining was positive for CD34 as well as for smooth muscle actin and vimentin. Following surgery, a marked control of his hypertension with calcium channel blockers and normalization of the serum potassium, renin or aldosterone levels were reached. According to our findings, JGCT could be included in the differential diagnosis of secondary hypertension as it consists of a curable cause. The association of JGCT with hypertension and hypokalaemia focusing on the clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation and management is herein discussed and a brief review of the existing literature is provided.

Learning points

  • Juxtaglomerular cell tumours (JGCT), despite their rarity, should be included in the differential diagnosis of secondary hypertension as they consist of a curable cause of hypertension.

  • JGCT could be presented with resistant hypertension along with hypokalaemia, kaliuresis and metabolic alkalosis. Early recognition and management can help to prevent cardiovascular complications.

  • Imaging (enhanced CT scans) may be considered as the primary diagnostic tool for the detection of renal or JGCT.

  • For the confirmation of the diagnosis, a histopathologic examination is needed.

Open access
Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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Donato Iacovazzo Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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Jane Evanson St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Anju Sahdev St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Jacqueline Trouillas Department of Pathology, Groupement Hospitalier Est, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Bron, France

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Lorraine McAndrew St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Tom R Kurzawinski Division of Endocrine Surgery, University College Hospital, London, UK

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David Bryant Sunderland Royal Hospital, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, UK

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Khalid Hussain Division of Endocrinology, Sidra Medicine, Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar

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Satya Bhattacharya St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Márta Korbonits Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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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%) (1): 76% of patients with a pNET secreting GHRH showed a MEN1 mutation (1).

  • 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) (1). 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.

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