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Open access

Tu Vinh Luong, Zaibun Nisa, Jennifer Watkins, and Aimee R Hayes

Summary

Colorectal poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) are typically associated with poor outcomes. The mechanisms of their aggressiveness are still being investigated. Microsatellite instability (MSI) has recently been found in colorectal NECs showing aberrant methylation of the MLH1 gene and is associated with improved prognosis. We present a 76-year-old lady with an ascending colon tumour showing features of a pT3 N0 R0, large cell NEC (LCNEC) following right hemicolectomy. The adjacent mucosa showed a sessile serrated lesion (SSL) with low-grade dysplasia. Immunohistochemistry showed loss of expression for MLH1 and PMS2 in both the LCNEC and dysplastic SSL. Molecular analysis indicated the sporadic nature of the MLH1 mismatch repair (MMR) protein-deficient status. Our patient did not receive adjuvant therapy and she is alive and disease-free after 34 months follow-up. This finding, similar to early-stage MMR-deficient colorectal adenocarcinoma, is likely practice-changing and will be critical in guiding the appropriate treatment pathway for these patients. We propose that testing of MMR status become routine for early-stage colorectal NECs.

Learning points:

  • Colorectal poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) are known to be aggressive and typically associated with poor outcomes.

  • A subset of colorectal NECs can display microsatellite instability (MSI) with mismatch repair (MMR) protein-deficient status.

  • MMR-deficient colorectal NECs have been found to have a better prognosis compared with MMR-proficient NECs.

  • MMR status can be detected using immunohistochemistry.

  • Immunohistochemistry for MMR status is routinely performed for colorectal adenocarcinomas.

  • Immunohistochemical expression of MMR protein and MSI analysis should be performed routinely for early-stage colorectal NECs in order to identify a subgroup of MMR-deficient NECs which are associated with a significantly more favourable prognosis.

Open access

Shanika Samarasinghe, Simge Yuksel, and Swati Mehrotra

Summary

We report a rare case of concurrent medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) and papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) with intermixed disease in several of the lymph node (LN) metastases in a patient who was subsequently diagnosed with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC). A 56 year old female presented with dysphagia and was found to have a left thyroid nodule and left superior cervical LN with suspicious sonographic features. Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) demonstrated PTC in the left thyroid nodule and MTC in the left cervical LN. Histopathology demonstrated multifocal PTC with 3/21 LNs positive for metastatic PTC. One LN in the left lateral neck dissection exhibited features of both MTC and PTC within the same node. In the right lobe, a 0.3 cm focus of MTC with extra-thyroidal extension was noted. Given persistent calcitonin elevation, a follow-up ultrasound displayed an abnormal left level 4 LN. FNAB showed features of both PTC and MTC on the cytopathology itself. The patient underwent repeat central and left radical neck dissection with 3/6 LNs positive for PTC in the central neck and 2/6 LNs positive for intermixed PTC and MTC in the left neck. There was no evidence of distant metastases on computed tomography and whole body scintigraphy, however a 1.9 x 2.5 cm enhancing mass within the right inter-polar kidney was discovered. This lesion was highly suspicious for RCC. Surgical pathology revealed a 2.5 cm clear cell RCC, Fuhrman grade 2/4, with negative surgical margins. She continues to be observed with stable imaging of her triple malignancies.

Learning points:

  • Mixed medullary-papillary thyroid neoplasm is characterized by the presence of morphological and immunohistochemical features of both medullary and papillary thyroid cancers within the same lesion. Simultaneous occurrence of these carcinomas has been previously reported, but a mixed disease within the same lymph node is an infrequent phenomenon.

  • Prognosis of mixed medullary-papillary thyroid carcinomas is determined by the medullary component. Therefore, when PTC and MTC occur concurrently, the priority should be given to the management of MTC, which involves total thyroidectomy and central lymph node dissection.

  • Patients with thyroid cancer, predominantly PTC, have shown higher than expected rates of RCC. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing the combination of MTC, PTC, and RCC in a single patient.

Open access

J Pedro, F M Cunha, V Neto, V Hespanhol, D F Martins, S Guimarães, A Varela, and D Carvalho

Summary

We describe the case of a 56 year-old woman with the almost simultaneous appearance of diffuse idiopathic pulmonary neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia (DIPNECH) and a carotid body paraganglioma. Of interest, 6 years earlier, the patient underwent total thyroidectomy due to papillary thyroid carcinoma and, in the meantime, she was submitted to mastectomy to treat an invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast. In order to explain these lesions, an extensive genetic study was performed. Results showed positivity for the presence of the tumor suppressor gene PALB2, whose presence had already been detected in a niece with breast cancer. The patient underwent different procedures to treat the lesions and currently she is symptom-free over 2 years of follow-up.

Learning points:

  • The presence of two rare neoplasms in a single person should raise the suspicion of a common etiology.

  • To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case that shows the coexistence of DIPNECH and paraganglioma.

  • The contribution of the PALB2 gene in the etiology of these rare neoplasms is a possibility.

Open access

Impana Shetty, Sarah Fuller, Margarita Raygada, Maria J Merino, B J Thomas, Brigitte C Widemann, Karlyne M Reilly, Karel Pacak, and Jaydira Del Rivero

Summary

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an aggressive cancer that originates in the cortex of the adrenal gland and generally has a poor prognosis. ACC is rare but can be more commonly seen in those with cancer predisposition syndromes (e.g. Li-Fraumeni and Lynch Syndrome). The diagnosis of ACC is sometimes uncertain and it requires the use of precise molecular pathology; the differential diagnosis includes pheochromocytoma, adrenal adenoma, renal carcinoma, or hepatocellular carcinoma. We describe a case of a 57-year-old woman with Lynch Syndrome and metastatic ACC who was initially diagnosed as having pheochromocytoma. The tumor was first identified at 51 years of age by ultrasound followed by a CT scan. She underwent a left adrenalectomy, and the histopathology identified pheochromocytoma. Two years later, she had tumor recurrence with imaging studies showing multiple lung nodules. Following a wedge resection by video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), histopathology was read as metastatic pheochromocytoma at one institution and metastatic ACC at another institution. She later presented to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where the diagnosis of ACC was confirmed. Following her ACC diagnosis, she was treated with mitotane and pembrolizumab which were stopped due to side effects and progression of disease. She is currently receiving etoposide, doxorubicin, and cisplatin (EDP). This case highlights the importance of using a multi-disciplinary approach in patient care. Thorough evaluation of the tumor’s pathology and analysis of the patient’s genetic profile are necessary to obtain the correct diagnosis for the patient and can significantly influence the course of treatment.

Learning points:

  • Making the diagnosis of ACC can be difficult as the differential diagnosis includes pheochromocytoma, adrenal adenoma, renal carcinoma, or hepatocellular carcinoma.

  • Patients with Lynch Syndrome should undergo surveillance for ACC as there is evidence of an association between Lynch Syndrome and ACC.

  • Conducting a complete tumor immunoprofile and obtaining a second opinion is very important in cases of suspected ACC in order to confirm the proper diagnosis.

  • A multi-disciplinary approach including genetic testing and a thorough evaluation of the tumor’s pathology is imperative to ensuring that the patient receives an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

Open access

Karen Decaestecker, Veerle Wijtvliet, Peter Coremans, and Nike Van Doninck

Summary

ACTH-dependent hypercortisolism is caused by an ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS) in 20% of cases. We report a rare cause of EAS in a 41-year-old woman, presenting with clinical features of Cushing’s syndrome which developed over several months. Biochemical tests revealed hypokalemic metabolic alkalosis and high morning cortisol and ACTH levels. Further testing, including 24-hour urine analysis, late-night saliva and low-dose dexamethasone suppression test, confirmed hypercortisolism. An MRI of the pituitary gland was normal. Inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS) revealed inconsistent results, with a raised basal gradient but no rise after CRH stimulation. Additional PET-CT showed intense metabolic activity in the left nasal vault. Biopsy of this lesion revealed an unsuspected cause of Cushing’s syndrome: an olfactory neuroblastoma (ONB) with positive immunostaining for ACTH. Our patient underwent transnasal resection of the tumour mass, followed by adjuvant radiotherapy. Normalisation of cortisol and ACTH levels was seen immediately after surgery. Hydrocortisone substitution was started to prevent withdrawal symptoms. As the hypothalamic–pituitary–axis slowly recovered, daily hydrocortisone doses were tapered and stopped 4 months after surgery. Clinical Cushing’s stigmata improved gradually.

Learning points:

  • Ectopic ACTH syndrome can originate from tumours outside the thoracoabdominal region, like the sinonasal cavity.

  • The diagnostic accuracy of IPSS is not 100%: both false positives and false negatives may occur and might be due to a sinonasal tumour with ectopic ACTH secretion.

  • Olfactory neuroblastoma (syn. esthesioneuroblastoma), named because of its sensory (olfactory) and neuroectodermal origin in the upper nasal cavity, is a rare malignant neoplasm. It should not be confused with neuroblastoma, a tumour of the sympathetic nervous system typically occurring in children.

  • If one criticises MRI of the pituitary gland because of ACTH-dependent hypercortisolism, one should take a close look at the sinonasal field as well.

Open access

Sakshi Jhawar, Rahul Lakhotia, Mari Suzuki, James Welch, Sunita K Agarwal, John Sharretts, Maria Merino, Mark Ahlman, Jenny E Blau, William F Simonds, and Jaydira Del Rivero

Summary

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an autosomal dominant condition characterized by parathyroid, anterior pituitary and enteropancreatic endocrine cell tumors. Neuroendocrine tumors occur in approximately in 5–15% of MEN1 patients. Very few cases of ovarian NETs have been reported in association with clinical MEN1 and without genetic testing confirmation. Thirty-three-year-old woman with MEN1 was found to have right adnexal mass on computed tomography (CT). Attempt at laparoscopic removal was unsuccessful, and mass was removed via a minilaparotomy in piecemeal fashion. Pathology showed ovarian NET arising from a teratoma. Four years later, patient presented with recurrence involving the pelvis and anterior abdominal wall. She was treated with debulking surgery and somatostatin analogs (SSAs). Targeted DNA sequencing analysis on the primary adnexal mass as well as the recurrent abdominal wall tumor confirmed loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the MEN1 gene locus. This case represents to our knowledge, the first genetically confirmed case of ovarian NET arising by a MEN1 mechanism in a patient with MEN1. Extreme caution should be exercised during surgery as failure to remove an ovarian NET en masse can result in peritoneal seeding and recurrence. For patients with advanced ovarian NETs, systemic therapy options include SSAs, peptide receptor radioligand therapy (PRRT) and novel agents targeting mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Learning points:

  • Ovarian NET can arise from a MEN1 mechanism, and any adnexal mass in a MEN1 patient can be considered as a possible malignant NET.

  • Given the rarity of this disease, limited data are available on prognostication and treatment. Management strategies are extrapolated from evidence available in NETs from primaries of other origins.

  • Care should be exercised to remove ovarian NETs en bloc as failure to do so may result in peritoneal seeding and recurrence.

  • Treatment options for advanced disease include debulking surgery, SSAs, TKIs, mTOR inhibitors, PRRT and chemotherapy.

Open access

Wei Yang, David Pham, Aren T Vierra, Sarah Azam, Dorina Gui, and John C Yoon

Summary

Ectopic ACTH-secreting pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors are rare and account for less than 5% of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome cases. We describe an unusual case of metastatic bronchial carcinoid tumor in a young woman presenting with unprovoked pulmonary emboli, which initially prevented the detection of the primary tumor on imaging. The source of ectopic ACTH was ultimately localized by a Gallium-DOTATATE scan, which demonstrated increased tracer uptake in a right middle lobe lung nodule and multiple liver nodules. The histological diagnosis was established based on a core biopsy of a hepatic lesion and the patient was started on a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist and a somatostatin analog. This case illustrates that hypercogulability can further aggravate the diagnostic challenges in ectopic ACTH syndrome. We discuss the literature on the current diagnosis and management strategies for ectopic ACTH syndrome.

Learning points:

  • In a young patient with concurrent hypokalemia and uncontrolled hypertension on multiple antihypertensive agents, secondary causes of hypertension should be evaluated.

  • Patients with Cushing’s syndrome can develop an acquired hypercoagulable state leading to spontaneous and postoperative venous thromboembolism.

  • Pulmonary emboli may complicate the imaging of the bronchial carcinoid tumor in ectopic ACTH syndrome.

  • Imaging with Gallium-68 DOTATATE PET/CT scan has the highest sensitivity and specificity in detecting ectopic ACTH-secreting tumors.

  • A combination of various noninvasive biochemical tests can enhance the diagnostic accuracy in differentiating Cushing’s disease from ectopic ACTH syndrome provided they have concordant results. Bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling remains the gold standard.

Open access

Haruhiko Yamazaki, Hiroyuki Iwasaki, Yoichiro Okubo, Nobuyasu Suganuma, Katsuhiko Masudo, Hirotaka Nakayama, Yasushi Rino, and Munetaka Masuda

Summary

The objective this study is to report two cases of thyroid gland invasion by upper mediastinal carcinoma. Mediastinal tumors are uncommon and represent 3% of the tumors seen within the chest. In reports on mediastinal masses, the incidence of malignant lesions ranged from 25 to 49%. The thyroid gland can be directly invaded by surrounding organ cancers. We report these cases contrasting them to the case of a thyroid cancer with mediastinal lesions. Case 1 was a 73-year-old woman who was diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma, and she underwent surgery and postoperative radioactive iodine. Case 2 was a 74-year-old man who was diagnosed with non-small-cell lung carcinoma, favor squamous cell carcinoma, and he underwent chemoradiotherapy. Case 3 was a 77-year-old man who was diagnosed a thymic carcinoma based on pathological findings and referred the patient to thoracic surgeons for surgical management. The images of the three cases were similar, and the differential diagnoses were difficult and required pathological examination. Primary thyroid carcinoma and invading carcinoma originating from the adjacent organs need to be distinguished because their prognoses and treatment strategies are different. It is important to properly diagnose them by images and pathological findings.

Learning points:

  • The thyroid gland in the anterior neck can be directly invaded by surrounding organ cancers.

  • Primary thyroid carcinoma and invading carcinoma originating from the adjacent organs need to be distinguished because their prognoses and treatment strategies are different.

  • It is important to properly diagnose by images and pathological findings.

Open access

Michal Barabas, Isabel Huang-Doran, Debbie Pitfield, Hazel Philips, Manoj Goonewardene, Ruth T Casey, and Benjamin G Challis

Summary

A 67-year-old woman presented with a generalised rash associated with weight loss and resting tachycardia. She had a recent diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Biochemical evaluation revealed elevated levels of circulating glucagon and chromogranin B. Cross-sectional imaging demonstrated a pancreatic lesion and liver metastases, which were octreotide-avid. Biopsy of the liver lesion confirmed a diagnosis of well-differentiated grade 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour, consistent with metastatic glucagonoma. Serial echocardiography commenced 4 years before this diagnosis demonstrated a progressive left ventricular dilatation and dysfunction in the absence of ischaemia, suggestive of glucagonoma-associated dilated cardiomyopathy. Given the severity of the cardiac impairment, surgical management was considered inappropriate and somatostatin analogue therapy was initiated, affecting clinical and biochemical improvement. Serial cross-sectional imaging demonstrated stable disease 2 years after diagnosis. Left ventricular dysfunction persisted, however, despite somatostatin analogue therapy and optimal medical management of cardiac failure. In contrast to previous reports, the case we describe demonstrates that chronic hyperglucagonaemia may lead to irreversible left ventricular compromise. Management of glucagonoma therefore requires careful and serial evaluation of cardiac status.

Learning points:

  • In rare cases, glucagonoma may present with cardiac failure as the dominant feature. Significant cardiac impairment may occur in the absence of other features of glucagonoma syndrome due to subclinical chronic hyperglucagonaemia.

  • A diagnosis of glucagonoma should be considered in patients with non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy, particularly those with other features of glucagonoma syndrome.

  • Cardiac impairment due to glucagonoma may not respond to somatostatin analogue therapy, even in the context of biochemical improvement.

  • All patients with a new diagnosis of glucagonoma should be assessed clinically for evidence of cardiac failure and, if present, a baseline transthoracic echocardiogram should be performed. In the presence of cardiac impairment these patients should be managed by an experienced cardiologist.

Open access

Lima Lawrence, Peng Zhang, Humberto Choi, Usman Ahmad, Valeria Arrossi, Andrei Purysko, and Vinni Makin

Summary

Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production leading to ectopic ACTH syndrome accounts for a small proportion of all Cushing’s syndrome (CS) cases. Thymic neuroendocrine tumors are rare neoplasms that may secrete ACTH leading to rapid development of hypercortisolism causing electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and an increased risk for opportunistic infections. We present a unique case of a patient who presented with a mediastinal mass, revealed to be an ACTH-secreting thymic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) causing ectopic CS. As the diagnosis of CS from ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS) remains challenging, we emphasize the necessity for high clinical suspicion in the appropriate setting, concordance between biochemical, imaging and pathology findings, along with continued vigilant monitoring for recurrence after definitive treatment.

Learning points:

  • Functional thymic neuroendocrine tumors are exceedingly rare.

  • Ectopic Cushing’s syndrome secondary to thymic neuroendocrine tumors secreting ACTH present with features of hypercortisolism including electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and hyperglycemia, and opportunistic infections.

  • The ability to undergo surgery and completeness of resection are the strongest prognostic factors for improved overall survival; however, the recurrence rate remains high.

  • A high degree of initial clinical suspicion followed by vigilant monitoring is required for patients with this challenging disease.