Micropapillary thyroid carcinoma and concomitant ectopic thyroid tissue in the adrenal gland: metastasis or metaplasia?


Journal Article

BACKGROUND:Ectopic thyroid tissue is a rare finding but has been reported in many thoracic and abdominal locations. It is usually an incidental pathologic finding after an unrelated surgical intervention. When thyroid tissue is found outside the thyroid bed, it is important to rule out thyroid cancer metastasis. PATIENT FINDINGS:We present a case of a 61-year-old African American woman who was incidentally found to have concomitant ectopic thyroid tissue in the adrenal gland and a papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) in the right lobe of the thyroid. SUMMARY:The concurrent finding of ectopic thyroid tissue and PTMC posed the diagnostic dilemma of whether the extrathyroidal tissue was metastasis or metaplasia, with very different treatment implications. Although many of these incidental micropapillary cancers are indolent, some patients do experience local or distant metastasis. Therefore, it is important to delineate which of these microtumors are likely to metastasize. Some tumor markers and gene mutations have been proposed to help differentiate the more benign tumors from the more aggressive tumors, but there is currently no standard method for determination of metastatic potential. CONCLUSIONS:Here we present the seventh known case of ectopic thyroid tissue in the adrenal gland and the first case of concomitant incidental PTMC in the setting of this ectopic tissue finding. Using this case, we discuss the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges faced and propose the use of biomarkers to help determine the metastatic potential of these tumors.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Bohinc, BN; Parker, JC; Hope, WW; Kotwall, C; Turner, J; Cheng, W; Lloyd, RV

Published Date

  • September 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 1033 - 1038

PubMed ID

  • 21834675

Pubmed Central ID

  • 21834675

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-9077

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1050-7256

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1089/thy.2010.0390


  • eng