Thyroglobulin concentration measurement in fine-needle aspiration fluid from cystic cervical lymph node metastases of papillary thyroid carcinoma

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Keio University, Tokyo.
Nippon Jibiinkoka Gakkai Kaiho 12/2011; 114(12):912-6. DOI: 10.3950/jibiinkoka.114.912
Source: PubMed


Combining ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) usually results in the best preoperative diagnosis of cervical masses, including neoplasms. This may not be true, however, especially in occult papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) associated with single cystic cervical lymph node metastasis. We assessed the role of thyroglobulin measurement in FNA fluid (FNATg) in differentially diagnosing cystic cervical mass lesions, including PTC cystic lymph node metastasis.
We reviewed the records of 17 subjects with cervical cystic masses undergoing both FNATg measurement and surgery. FNA was done under ultrasonographic guidance. We also measured FNATg concentrations from extrathyroid lesions, consisting of cystic cervical lymph node metastases and benign cystic lesions.
Pathological diagnosis involved 5 PTC lymph node metastases, 3 lateral cervical cysts, 7 thyroglossal duct cysts, and 2 squamous cell carcinoma (lung and oropharynx) lymph node metastases. FNATg of PTC lymph node metastasis was much higher than the reference range of blood serum thyroglobulin, although much lower for the lateral cervical cyst detection threshold. FNAC and FNATg measurement are thought to be mutually complementary in the differential diagnosis of PTC cystic lymph node metastasis.
High concentrations of FNATg in a cystic cervical mass is considered specific to PTC lymph node metastasis, indicating its usefulness in distinguish PTC cystic metastasis from other cystic lesions. Including FNATg measurement with FNAC may thus improve preoperative diagnosis accuracy without additionally stressing subjects with PTC cystic lymph node metastasis.

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    ABSTRACT: Thyroglossal duct cyst (TGDC) carcinoma generally shows a favorable prognosis. If metastasis is present latently, it may not threaten the patient's life immediately. It has been shown, however, that larger than 1 cm papillary carcinoma (PC), level VI metastasis to the lymph node (LN), which is the nearest to the thyroid, independently predicts a worse prognosis. In the case presented herein, a 61-year-old female patient was diagnosed with an about 3 cm PC in the TGDC, particularly the columnar variant subtype, one of the aggressive variants. She had occult papillary thyroid microcarcinoma, but no LN metastasis. Even though she underwent the Sistrunk procedure and total thyroidectomy with central compartment neck dissection followed by high-dose radioactive iodine remnant ablation, however, the cancer cells spread to level IV neck LN, and finally to the lung. Therefore, when a patient is diagnosed with an aggressive histologic variant of PC in the TGDC, even without LN metastasis, the invasive surgical approach and close postoperative surveillance are necessary, with consideration of the risk of disease progression. Therefore, if it is possible to stratify the risk for patients, higher-risk patients can be offered a more invasive therapeutic approach.
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