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Tu Vinh Luong The Department of Cellular Pathology, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
Neuroendocrine Tumour Unit, ENETS Center of Excellence, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

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Zaibun Nisa The Department of Cellular Pathology, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

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Jennifer Watkins The Department of Cellular Pathology, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
Neuroendocrine Tumour Unit, ENETS Center of Excellence, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

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Aimee R Hayes Neuroendocrine Tumour Unit, ENETS Center of Excellence, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
Department of Medical Oncology, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

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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
Karen Decaestecker Department of Diabetology-Endocrinology, AZ Nikolaas, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

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Veerle Wijtvliet Department of Diabetology-Endocrinology, AZ Nikolaas, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

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Peter Coremans Department of Diabetology-Endocrinology, AZ Nikolaas, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

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Nike Van Doninck Department of Diabetology-Endocrinology, AZ Nikolaas, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

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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 Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Rahul Lakhotia Medical Oncology Service, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Mari Suzuki Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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James Welch Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Sunita K Agarwal Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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John Sharretts Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Maria Merino Laboratory of Pathology, National Cancer Institute, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Mark Ahlman Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Jenny E Blau Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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William F Simonds Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Jaydira Del Rivero Pediatric Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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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
Haruhiko Yamazaki Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Yokohama, Japan

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Hiroyuki Iwasaki Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Yokohama, Japan

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Yoichiro Okubo Department of Pathology, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Yokohama, Japan

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Nobuyasu Suganuma Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Yokohama, Japan

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Katsuhiko Masudo Department of Breast and Thyroid Surgery, Yokohama City University Medical Center, Yokohama, Japan

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Hirotaka Nakayama Department of Surgery, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Yokohama, Japan

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Yasushi Rino Department of Surgery, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Yokohama, Japan

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Munetaka Masuda Department of Surgery, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Yokohama, Japan

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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 Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Isabel Huang-Doran Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK

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Debbie Pitfield Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Hazel Philips Department of Cardiology, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Bedford, UK

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Manoj Goonewardene Department of Cardiology, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Bedford, UK

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Ruth T Casey Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Benjamin G Challis Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
IMED Biotech Unit, Clinical Discovery Unit, AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK

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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
Saurabh Uppal Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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James Blackburn Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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Mohammed Didi Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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Rajeev Shukla Departments of Pathology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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James Hayden Departments of Oncology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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Senthil Senniappan Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
Institute of Child Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

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Summary

Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) can be associated with embryonal tumours and congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI). We present an infant with BWS who developed congenital hepatoblastoma and Wilms’ tumour during infancy. The infant presented with recurrent hypoglycaemia requiring high intravenous glucose infusion and was biochemically confirmed to have CHI. He was resistant to diazoxide but responded well to octreotide and was switched to Lanreotide at 1 year of age. Genetic analysis for mutations of ABCC8 and KCNJ11 were negative. He had clinical features suggestive of BWS. Methylation-sensitive multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification revealed hypomethylation at KCNQ1OT1:TSS-DMR and hypermethylation at H19 /IGF2:IG-DMR consistent with mosaic UPD(11p15). Hepatoblastoma was detected on day 4 of life, which was resistant to chemotherapy, requiring surgical resection. He developed Wilms’ tumour at 3 months of age, which also showed poor response to induction chemotherapy with vincristine and actinomycin D. Surgical resection of Wilms’ tumour was followed by post-operative chemotherapy intensified with cycles containing cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, carboplatin and etoposide, in addition to receiving flank radiotherapy. We report, for the first time, an uncommon association of hepatoblastoma and Wilms’ tumour in BWS in early infancy. Early onset tumours may show resistance to chemotherapy. UPD(11p15) is likely associated with persistent CHI in BWS.

Learning points:

  • Long-acting somatostatin analogues are effective in managing persistent CHI in BWS.

  • UPD(11)pat genotype may be a pointer to persistent and severe CHI.

  • Hepatoblastoma and Wilms’ tumour may have an onset within early infancy and early tumour surveillance is essential.

  • Tumours associated with earlier onset may be resistant to recognised first-line chemotherapy.

Open access
Seong Keat Cheah Endocrinology Department, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, Huntingdon, UK

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David Halsall Pathology Department, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK

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Peter Barker Core Biochemical Assay Laboratory (CBAL), Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK

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John Grant Pathology Department, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK

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Abraham Mathews Endocrinology Department, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, Huntingdon, UK

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Shyam Seshadri Endocrinology Department, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, Huntingdon, UK

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Singhan Krishnan Endocrinology Department, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, Huntingdon, UK

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Summary

A frail 79-year-old lady with dementia presented with a 2-year history of frequent falls. Recurrent hypoglycaemic episodes were diagnosed and treated with continuous glucose infusion in multiple hospital admissions. Hypoadrenalism and hypothyroidism were ruled out. Whilst hypoglycaemic (blood glucose 1.6 mmol/L), both plasma C-peptide and proinsulin concentrations, were inappropriately elevated at 4210 pmol/L (174–960) and >200 pmol/L (0–7) respectively with plasma insulin suppressed at 12 pmol/L (0–180). Whilst reported cases of proinsulinoma are typically pancreatic in origin, radiological investigations of the pancreas in this patient did not identify abnormalities. Unexpectedly contrast CT identified a heterogeneously enhancing mass (6.6 cm) at the lower pole of the left kidney consistent with renal cell carcinoma. Non-islet cell tumour-induced hypoglycaemia has been associated with renal malignancy; however, a serum IGF2:IGF1 ratio measured at <10 effectively excludes this diagnosis. Concomitantly on the CT, extensive peripherally enhancing heterogeneous mass lesions in the liver were identified, the largest measuring 12 cm. A palliative approach was taken due to multiple comorbidities. On post-mortem, the kidney lesion was confirmed as clear cell renal carcinoma, whilst the liver lesions were identified as proinsulin-secreting neuroendocrine tumours. In conclusion, the diagnosis of proinsulinoma can be missed if plasma proinsulin concentration is not measured at the time of hypoglycaemia. In this case, the plasma insulin:C-peptide ratio was too high to be accounted for by the faster relative clearance of insulin and was due to proinsulin cross-reactivity in the C-peptide assay. In addition, the concomitant malignancy proved to be a challenging red herring.

Learning points:

  • Even in non-diabetics, hypoglycaemia needs to be excluded in a setting of frequent falls. Insulin- or proinsulin-secreting tumours are potentially curable causes.

  • Whilst investigating spontaneous hypoglycaemia, if plasma insulin concentration is appropriate for the hypoglycaemia, it is prudent to check proinsulin concentrations during the hypoglycaemic episode.

  • Proinsulin cross-reacts variably with C-peptide and insulin assays; the effect is method dependent. In this case, the discrepancy between the insulin and C-peptide concentrations was too great to be accounted for by the faster relative clearance of insulin, raising the suspicion of assay interference. The C-peptide assay in question (Diasorin liaison) has been shown to be 100% cross reactive with proinsulin based on spiking studies with a proinsulin reference preparation.

  • Whilst reported cases of proinsulinoma and 99% of insulinomas are of pancreatic origin, conventional imaging studies (CT, MRI or ultrasound) fail to detect neuroendocrine tumours <1 cm in 50% of cases.

  • The concomitant renal mass identified radiologically proved to be a red herring.

  • In view of the rarity of proinsulinoma, no conclusive association with renal cell carcinoma can be established.

Open access
Joseph A Chorny Department of Pathology, Colorado Permanente Medical Group, Denver, Colorado, USA

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John J Orrego Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Colorado Permanente Medical Group, Denver, Colorado, USA

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José Manuel Cameselle-Teijeiro Department of Anatomic Pathology, Clinical University Hospital, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

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Summary

Most medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTCs) are low grade and produce calcitonin. There are some calcitonin-negative MTCs that produce only calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Rarely, MTCs are negative for calcitonin and CGRP peptides, but contain their corresponding mRNAs. Primary thyroid neuroendocrine neoplasms other than MTCs are extremely rare. We describe a primary high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma that was negative for CGRP and calcitonin at both the protein and mRNA levels. A 42-year-old woman presented with a rapidly enlarging thyroid mass replacing most of the left lobe and isthmus. A computed tomography-guided core-needle biopsy was performed. The tumor was composed of sheets of small-to-medium sized epithelial cells. The cells were immunoreactive for pancytokeratin, synaptophysin, CD56 and thyroid transcription factor-1, but negative for CK7, CK20, CD45, CD99, ERG, chromogranin A, thyroglobulin, calcitonin, CGRP and carcinoembryonic antigen. The Ki-67 proliferation index was ~90%. In situ hybridization was negative for calcitonin mRNA. The patient was initially diagnosed as having a small cell carcinoma. She was treated with cisplatin and etoposide (VP16), followed by radiation therapy. Given the excellent clinical course, the tumor was reviewed and reclassified as a high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma (non-small-cell type). Heretofore, only a few other similar high-grade neuroendocrine tumors with negative markers of C-cell derivation have been reported. In our case, the patient is cancer free five years after diagnosis, but in the other cases, the outcome was poor.

Learning points:

Open access
Taiba Zornitzki Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Unit, Kaplan Medical Center, Hebrew University Medical School of Jerusalem, Bilu 176100, Rehovot, Israel

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Hadara Rubinfeld Institute of Endocrinology and Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva, 49100, Israel
Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel

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Lyudmila Lysyy Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Unit, Kaplan Medical Center, Hebrew University Medical School of Jerusalem, Bilu 176100, Rehovot, Israel

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Tal Schiller Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Unit, Kaplan Medical Center, Hebrew University Medical School of Jerusalem, Bilu 176100, Rehovot, Israel

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Véronique Raverot Laboratoire d'Hormonologie – CBPE, Hospices Civils de Lyon, 59 bd Pinel69677, Bron Cedex, France

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Ilan Shimon Institute of Endocrinology and Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva, 49100, Israel
Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel

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Hilla Knobler Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Unit, Kaplan Medical Center, Hebrew University Medical School of Jerusalem, Bilu 176100, Rehovot, Israel

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Summary

Acromegaly due to ectopic GHRH secretion from a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is rare and comprises <1% of all acromegaly cases. Herein we present a 57-year-old woman with clinical and biochemical features of acromegaly and a 6 cm pancreatic NET (pNET), secreting GHRH and calcitonin. Following surgical resection of the pancreatic tumor, IGF1, GH and calcitonin normalized, and the clinical features of acromegaly improved. In vitro studies confirmed that the tumor secreted large amounts of both GHRH and calcitonin, and incubation of pNET culture-derived conditioned media stimulated GH release from a cultured human pituitary adenoma. This is a unique case of pNET secreting both GHRH and calcitonin. The ability of the pNET-derived medium to stimulate in vitro GH release from a human pituitary-cell culture, combined with the clinical and hormonal remission following tumor resection, confirmed the ectopic source of acromegaly in this patient.

Learning points

  • Signs, symptoms and initial work-up of acromegaly due to ectopic GHRH secretion are similar to pituitary-dependent acromegaly. However, if no identifiable pituitary lesion is found, somatostatin receptor scan and further imaging (CT, MRI) should be performed.

  • Detection of GHRH in the blood and in the tumor-derived medium supports the diagnosis of ectopic GHRH secretion.

  • Functional bioactivity of pNET-secreted GHRH can be proved in vitro by releasing GH from human pituitary cells.

Open access