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Pratima Herle Department of Surgery, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
General Surgery, Mount Druitt Hospital, Mount Druitt, New South Wales, Australia

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Steven Boyages Department of Endocrinology, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia

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Rina Hui Department of Radiation Oncology, Sydney West Cancer Network, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Najmun Nahar Department of Medical Oncology, Sydney West Cancer Network, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Nicholas K Ngui General Surgery, Mount Druitt Hospital, Mount Druitt, New South Wales, Australia

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Summary

In most developed countries, breast carcinoma is the most common malignancy in women and while thyroid cancer is less common, its incidence is almost three to five times greater in women than in men. Since 1966, studies have demonstrated an association between thyroid and breast cancer and despite these studies, the mechanism/s by which they are related, remains unclear. We present a case of a 56-year-old lady who initially presented in 2014 with a screen detected left breast carcinoma but was subsequently found to have occult metastatic thyroid cancer to the axilla, diagnosed from a sentinel node biopsy from the primary breast procedure. The patient underwent a left mastectomy, left axillary dissection and total thyroidectomy followed by three courses of radioactive iodine ablation. Despite this, her thyroglobulin level continued to increase, which was secondary to a metastatic thyroid cancer parasternal metastasis. Breast and thyroid cancer presents metachronously or synchronously more often than by chance. With improving mortality in primary cancers, such as breast and differentiated thyroid cancer, it is likely that as clinicians, we will continue to encounter this association in practice.

Learning points:

  • There has been a long-standing observation of an association between breast and thyroid cancer although the exact mechanism of this association remains unclear.

  • Our patient presented with thyroid cancer with an incidental diagnosis from a sentinel node biopsy during her primary breast operation for breast cancer and was also found to have a parasternal distant bony metastasis.

  • Thyroid axillary metastases are generally rare.

  • The interesting nature in which this patient’s metastatic thyroid carcinoma behaved more like a breast carcinoma highlights a correlation between these two cancers.

  • With improving mortality in these primary cancers, clinicians are likely to encounter this association in clinical practice.

  • Systemic therapy for metastatic breast and thyroid cancers differ and therefore a clear diagnosis of metastasis is crucial.

Open access
Fumiaki Kawano Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Tadato Yonekawa Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Hideki Yamaguchi Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Nobuhiro Shibata Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Kousei Tashiro Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Makoto Ikenoue Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Shun Munakata Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Kazuhiro Higuchi Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Hiroyuki Tanaka Diagnostic Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Yuichiro Sato Diagnostic Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Ayumu Hosokawa Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Shinsuke Takeno Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Kunihide Nakamura Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Atsushi Nanashima Departments of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Summary

A 54-year-old woman was referred to our hospital with a cervical tumor. CT revealed a cervical tumor extending to the upper mediastinum, tracheal deviation and tumor infiltration in the cervical vessels. She was followed-up because no diagnosis of malignancy was made by cytology. However, 2 months later, a CT scan showed enlargement of the tumor and tracheal stenosis, and a surgical biopsy was performed and she was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC). The tracheal tube with tracheal stenosis could not be removed due to the rapid growth of the tumor, necessitating management by mechanical ventilation. Due to the difficulty of surgical resection, she was treated with lenvatinib. A lenvatinib solution was made and administered via a nasogastric tube. After lenvatinib treatment, the tumor volume decreased and the tracheal stenosis improved. The tracheal tube was removed and oral intake became possible. She was discharged and received ambulatory lenvatinib therapy. The tumor was significantly reduced in size, but gradually grew and was exposed through the cervical wound 6 months later. Esophageal perforation occurred 10 months after the start of treatment. Lenvatinib was re-administered via a nasogastric tube. Eleven months later, the patient died of massive bleeding from the exposed cervical tumor. Patients with advanced ATC may require management with mechanical ventilation for airway stenosis or with a nasogastric tube for esophageal stenosis and perforation. We experienced a case in which lenvatinib was safely administered via a nasogastric tube while performing mechanical ventilation.

Learning points:

  • An anaplastic thyroid cancer patient under mechanical ventilator management was treated with lenvatinib via a nasogastric tube.

  • The lenvatinib solution can easily be prepared and administered via a nasogastric tube.

  • The lenvatinib solution was effective for a patient with difficulty in oral intake.

  • Lenvatinib could also improve the prognosis of an anaplastic thyroid cancer patient with severe airway and esophageal trouble.

Open access
Mauro Boronat Section of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno-Infantil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Research Institute in Biomedical and Health Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

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Summary

Isolated, adult-onset central hypothyroidism is very rare, and its diagnosis can be challenging. A 42-year-old patient was referred for evaluation of a 2.8 cm thyroid nodule. She referred symptoms that could be attributed to hypothyroidism and thyroid tests showed low TSH and normal-low levels of free T4. However, evaluation of the remaining pituitary hormones and pituitary MRI were normal, yet a radionuclide scanning revealed that the thyroid nodule was ‘hot’ and the tracer uptake in the remaining thyroid tissue was suppressed. Interpretation of these studies led to a misdiagnosis of subclinical hyperthyroidism and the patient was treated with radioiodine. Soon after treatment, she developed a frank hypothyroidism without appropriate elevation of TSH and the diagnosis of central hypothyroidism was made a posteriori. Long term follow-up revealed a progressive pituitary failure, with subsequent deficiency of ACTH and GH. This case should alert to the possibility of overlooking central hypothyroidism in patients simultaneously bearing primary thyroid diseases able to cause subclinical hyperthyroidism.

Learning points:

  • Although rarely, acquired central hypothyroidism can occur in the absence of other pituitary hormone deficiencies.

  • In these cases, diagnosis is challenging, as symptoms are unspecific and usually mild, and laboratory findings are variable, including low, normal or even slightly elevated TSH levels, along with low or low-normal concentrations of free T4.

  • In cases with low TSH levels, the coexistence of otherwise common disorders able to cause primary thyroid hyperfunction, such as autonomous nodular disease, may lead to a misdiagnosis of subclinical hyperthyroidism.

Open access
Waralee Chatchomchaun Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Yotsapon Thewjitcharoen Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Karndumri Krittadhee Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Veekij Veerasomboonsin Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Soontaree Nakasatien Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Sirinate Krittiyawong Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Sriurai Porramatikul Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Ekgaluck Wanathayanoroj Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Auchai Kanchanapituk Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Pairoj Junyangdikul Department of Pathology, Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, Bangkok Hospital Group, Bangkok, Thailand

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Thep Himathongkam Diabetes and Thyroid Center, Theptarin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

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Summary

In this case report, we describe a 37-year-old male who presented with fever and tender neck mass. Neck ultrasonography revealed a mixed echogenic multiloculated solid-cystic lesion containing turbid fluid and occupying the right thyroid region. Thyroid function tests showed subclinical hyperthyroidism. The patient was initially diagnosed with thyroid abscess and he was subsequently treated with percutaneous aspiration and i.v. antibiotics; however, his clinical symptoms did not improve. Surgical treatment was then performed and a pathological examination revealed a ruptured epidermoid cyst with abscess formation. No thyroid tissue was identified in the specimen. The patient was discharged uneventfully. However, at the 3-month and 1-year follow-ups, the patient was discovered to have developed subclinical hypothyroidism. Neck ultrasonography revealed a normal thyroid gland. This report demonstrates a rare case of epidermoid cyst abscess in the cervical region, of which initial imaging and abnormal thyroid function tests led to the erroneous diagnosis of thyroid abscess.

Learning points:

  • Epidermoid cyst abscess at the cervical region can mimic thyroid abscess.

  • Neck ultrasonography cannot distinguish thyroid abscess from epidermoid cyst abscess.

  • Thyroid function may be altered due to the adjacent soft tissue inflammation.

Open access
Shanika Samarasinghe Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois, USA

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Simge Yuksel Division of Internal Medicine, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois, USA

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Swati Mehrotra Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois, USA

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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.

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Anna Popławska-Kita Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Marta Wielogórska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Łukasz Poplawski Radiology, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Katarzyna Siewko Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Agnieszka Adamska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Piotr Szumowski Departments of Nuclear Medicine, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Piotr Myśliwiec 1st Clinic Department of General and Endocrine Surgery, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Janusz Myśliwiec Departments of Nuclear Medicine, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Joanna Reszeć Departments of Medical Pathomorphology, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Grzegorz Kamiński Department of Endocrinology and Radioisotopy Therapy, Military Institute of Medicine, Warsaw, Poland

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Janusz Dzięcioł Departments of Human Anatomy, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Dorota Tobiaszewska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Małgorzata Szelachowska Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Adam Jacek Krętowski Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Summary

Papillary thyroid gland carcinoma is the most common type of malignancy of the endocrine system. Metastases to the pituitary gland have been described as a complication of papillary thyroid cancer in few reported cases since 1965. We report the case of a 68-year-old female patient with a well-differentiated form of thyroid gland cancer. Despite it being the most common malignant cancer of the endocrine system, with its papillary form being one of the two most frequently diagnosed thyroid cancers, the case we present is extremely rare. Sudden cardiac arrest during ventricular fibrillation occurred during hospitalization. Autopsy of the patient revealed papillary carcinoma of the thyroid, follicular variant, with metastasis to the sella turcica, and concomitant sarcoidosis of heart, lung, and mediastinal and hilar lymph nodes. Not only does atypical metastasis make our patient’s case most remarkable, but also the postmortem diagnosis of sarcoidosis makes her case particularly unusual.

Learning points:

  • The goal of presenting this case is to raise awareness of the clinical heterogeneity of papillary cancer and promote early diagnosis of unexpected metastasis and coexisting diseases to improve clinical outcomes.

  • Clinicians must be skeptical. They should not fall into the trap of diagnostic momentum or accept diagnostic labels at face value. Regardless of the potential mechanisms, clinicians should be aware of the possibility of the coexistence of thyroid cancer and sarcoidosis as a differential diagnosis of lymphadenopathy.

  • This case highlights the importance of the diagnostic and therapeutic planning process and raises awareness of the fact that one uncommon disease could be masked by another extremely rare disorder.

Open access
C Greco Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Medical Specialties, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena, Ospedale Civile di Baggiovara, Modena, Italy

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G Brigante Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Medical Specialties, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena, Ospedale Civile di Baggiovara, Modena, Italy

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E Taliani Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Medical Specialties, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena, Ospedale Civile di Baggiovara, Modena, Italy

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S Corrado Department of Diagnostic, Clinical Medicine and Public Health, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena, Modena, Italy

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M Simoni Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Medical Specialties, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena, Ospedale Civile di Baggiovara, Modena, Italy

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B Madeo Unit of Endocrinology, Department of Medical Specialties, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena, Ospedale Civile di Baggiovara, Modena, Italy

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Summary

A 74-year-old man was referred to the Endocrinology Unit because of multinodular goiter. The dominant nodule (1.7 × 1.9 × 2.4 cm), at the medium-superior third of the left lobe, was inhomogeneously hypoechoic, with irregular margins, macrocalcifications and intranodular vascularization. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) was performed. The cytological diagnosis was TIR 2, benign, according to the 2013 Italian thyroid cytology classification system. Moderately high serum calcitonin (s-Ct) (61.5 pg/mL, n.r. 0–7.5) and normal CEA were detected. The Ct level in FNAB wash-out fluid (Ct-FNAB) was 1450 pg/mL. Based on s-Ct and Ct-FNAB levels, patient underwent total thyroidectomy. Macroscopically, a dominant circumscribed nodule of 2 ecm was described; the histological and immunohistochemical features identified medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) with paraganglioma (PG)-like pattern positive for Ct, CEA and chromogranin and negative for S-100 sustentacular cells (SC). Moreover, papillary carcinoma of 3 mm in the right lobe was also associated. No areas of hyperaccumulation of the tracer were documented at Ga68 PET/CT. No RET-proto-oncogene mutations were found. Post-surgery s-Ct levels were within normal range (4 pg/mL). Two years after thyroidectomy, the patient is still disease-free. We reported a case of sporadic and rare variant of MTC: this is the ninth described case of PG-like MTC. In this case, cytologically benign, the clinical suspicion arose from high Ct values at FNAB wash-out fluid. Even if clinical behavior of this variant seems indolent, additional studies are necessary to understand prognoses and predictive factors.

Learning points:

  • Several unusual histological variants of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) have been described such as spindle cell, giant cell, clear cell, melanotic, squamous, angiosarcoma-like variants; even rarer is the paraganglioma (PG)-like pattern.

  • We here describe a case of medullary PG-like thyroid carcinoma in a 74-year-old man. This is a rare histological variant of MTC hardly diagnosed by cytology, since immunohistochemical investigations are necessary.

  • Measurement of calcitonin both in serum and in wash-out fluid from fine-needle aspiration could be an additional tool for an early and non-invasive identification of these variants.

Open access
Skand Shekhar Section on Endocrinology & Genetics, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Sriram Gubbi Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch, National Institute of Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Georgios Z Papadakis Department of Medical Imaging, Heraklion University Hospital, Medical School, University of Crete, Crete, Greece
Computational Biomedicine Laboratory (CBML), Institute of Computer Science (ICS), Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), Heraklion, Greece

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Naris Nilubol Surgical Oncology Program, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Fady Hannah-Shmouni Section on Endocrinology & Genetics, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Summary

Adrenococortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare cancer, occurring at the rate of one case in two million person years. Cushing syndrome or a mixed picture of excess androgen and glucocorticoid production are the most common presentations of ACC. Other uncommon presentations include abdominal pain and adrenal incidentalomas. In the present report, a 71-year-old male presented with abdominal pain and was eventually diagnosed with ACC. He was found to have pulmonary thromboembolism following an investigation for hypoxemia, with the tumor thrombus extending upto the right atrium. This interesting case represents the unique presentation of a rare tumor, which if detected late or left untreated is associated with poor outcomes, highlighting the need for a low index of suspicion for ACC when similar presentations are encountered in clinical practice.

Learning points:

  • ACC is a rare but aggressive tumor.

  • ACC commonly presents with rapid onset of hypercortisolism, combined hyperandrogenism and hypercortisolism, or uncommonly with compressive symptoms.

  • Clinicians should have a low index of suspicion for ACC in patients presenting with rapid onset of symptoms related to hypercortisolism and/or hyperandrogenism.

  • Venous thromboembolism and extension of the tumor thrombus to the right side of the heart is a very rare but serious complication of ACC that clinicans should be wary of.

  • The increased risk of venous thromboembolism in ACC could be explained by direct tumor invasion, tumor thrombi or hypercoagulability secondary to hypercortisolism.

  • Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can improve the long-term survival of patients with ACC.

Open access
Alexa Clark Department of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Marosh Manduch Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Russell Hollins Department of Otolaryngology, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Sara Awad Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Summary

We report a case of metastatic papillary thyroid carcinoma presenting with a recurrent right-sided cervical lymph node necrotic cyst. A 55-year-old woman presented with a 3-month history of a right-sided upper neck mass following an upper respiratory tract infection. Past medical history includes a right-sided nephrectomy secondary to a benign renal tumor and hypertension. She was evaluated by Otolaryngology, and fine-needle aspiration was performed. The mass recurred 2 months following aspiration. Ultrasound of the neck showed a 2.2 × 1.4 × 1.9 cm right cervical lymph node with a small fatty hilum but a thickened cortex. Neck computed tomography (CT) scan showed a well-defined 2.3 cm mass in the right upper neck corresponding to a necrotic cervical lymph node at level IIA. It also revealed a 7 mm calcified left thyroid nodule. Cytology revealed a moderate collection of murky fluid with mildly atypical cells presumed to be reactive given the clinical history of infection. The cyst had re-grown 2 months following aspiration. Excisional biopsy was performed and revealed metastatic classic papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). Subsequently, a total thyroidectomy and right neck dissection was performed. Pathology confirmed metastatic unifocal classic PTC of the right thyroid lobe and two lymph node metastases out of a total of 17 resected lymph nodes. The patient underwent radioactive iodine ablation. Subsequent I-131 radioiodine whole-body scan showed no evidence of metastases. In conclusion, metastatic PTC should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a recurrent solitary cystic cervical lymph node.

Learning points:

  • Metastatic PTC should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a recurrent solitary cystic cervical lymph node.

  • A dedicated thyroid ultrasound is the preferred modality for identifying thyroid lesion over computed tomography.

  • There is a risk of non-diagnostic cytology following FNA for cystic neck lesions, largely predicted by the cyst content of the nodule.

Open access
Peter Novodvorsky Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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Ziad Hussein Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK

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Muhammad Fahad Arshad Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK

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Ahmed Iqbal Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK

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Malee Fernando Department of Histopathology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK

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Alia Munir Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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Sabapathy P Balasubramanian Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Department of General Surgery, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK

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Summary

Spontaneous remission of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) due to necrosis and haemorrhage of parathyroid adenoma, the so-called ‘parathyroid auto-infarction’ is a very rare, but previously described phenomenon. Patients usually undergo parathyroidectomy or remain under close clinical and biochemical surveillance. We report two cases of parathyroid auto-infarction diagnosed in the same tertiary centre; one managed surgically and the other conservatively up to the present time. Case #1 was a 51-year old man with PHPT (adjusted (adj.) calcium: 3.11 mmol/L (reference range (RR): 2.20–2.60 mmol/L), parathyroid hormone (PTH) 26.9 pmol/L (RR: 1.6–6.9 pmol/L) and urine calcium excretion consistent with PHPT) referred for parathyroidectomy. Repeat biochemistry 4 weeks later at the surgical clinic showed normal adj. calcium (2.43 mmol/L) and reduced PTH. Serial ultrasound imaging demonstrated reduction in size of the parathyroid lesion from 33 to 17 mm. Twenty months later, following recurrence of hypercalcaemia, he underwent neck exploration and resection of an enlarged right inferior parathyroid gland. Histology revealed increased fibrosis and haemosiderin deposits in the parathyroid lesion in keeping with auto-infarction. Case #2 was a 54-year-old lady admitted with severe hypercalcaemia (adj. calcium: 4.58 mmol/L, PTH 51.6 pmol/L (RR: 1.6–6.9 pmol/L)) and severe vitamin D deficiency. She was treated with intravenous fluids and pamidronate and 8 days later developed symptomatic hypocalcaemia (1.88 mmol/L) with dramatic decrease of PTH (17.6 pmol/L). MRI of the neck showed a 44 mm large cystic parathyroid lesion. To date, (18 months later), she has remained normocalcaemic.

Learning points:

  • Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is characterised by excess parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion arising mostly from one or more autonomously functioning parathyroid adenomas (up to 85%), diffuse parathyroid hyperplasia (<15%) and in 1–2% of cases from parathyroid carcinoma.

  • PHPT and hypercalcaemia of malignancy, account for the majority of clinical presentations of hypercalcaemia.

  • Spontaneous remission of PHPT due to necrosis, haemorrhage and infarction of parathyroid adenoma, the so-called ‘parathyroid auto-infarction’, ‘auto-parathyroidectomy’ or ‘parathyroid apoplexy’ is a very rare in clinical practice but has been previously reported in the literature.

  • In most cases, patients with parathyroid auto-infarction undergo parathyroidectomy. Those who are managed conservatively need to remain under close clinical and biochemical surveillance long-term as in most cases PHPT recurs, sometimes several years after auto-infarction.

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