Risk of Malignancy in Thyroid Incidentalomas Detected by F-18-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography: A Systematic Review

Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark.
Thyroid: official journal of the American Thyroid Association (Impact Factor: 4.49). 07/2012; 22(9):918-25. DOI: 10.1089/thy.2012.0005
Source: PubMed


The expanding use of (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ((18)F-FDG PET) has led to the identification of increasing numbers of patients with an incidentaloma in the thyroid gland. We aimed to review the proportion of incidental thyroid cancers found by (18)F-FDG PET or PET/computed tomography imaging.

Studies evaluating thyroid carcinomas discovered incidentally in patients or healthy volunteers by (18)F-FDG PET were systematically searched in the PubMed database from 2000 to 2011. The main exclusion criteria were known thyroid disease, lack of assigned diagnoses, investigation of diffuse uptake only, or investigation of patients with head and neck cancer, or cancer in the upper part of the thorax.

Twenty-two studies met our criteria comprising a total of 125,754 subjects. Of these, 1994 (1.6%) had unexpected focal hypermetabolic activity, while 999 of 48,644 individuals (2.1%) had an unexpected diffuse hypermetabolic activity in the thyroid gland. A diagnosis was assigned in 1051 of the 1994 patients with a focal uptake, 366 of whom (34.8%) had thyroid malignancy. Likewise, a diagnosis was assigned in 168 of 999 patients with a diffuse uptake, 7 of whom (4.4%) had thyroid malignancy. In the eight studies reporting individual maximum standardized uptake values (SUV(max)), the mean SUV(max) was 4.8 (standard deviation [SD] 3.1) and 6.9 (SD 4.7) in benign and malignant lesions, respectively (p<0.001).

Incidentally found thyroid nodules, using (18)F-FDG PET, are at high risk of harboring malignancy if uptake is focal. SUV are significantly higher in malignant than in benign nodules. The pronounced inhomogeneity and other shortcomings of the studies are discussed.

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    • "Metastatic tumors to the thyroid are rare, representing less than 1% of all thyroid malignancies[9] or 4% of thyroid malignancies identified by PET scanning.[2] They may closely mimic the appearance of primary thyroid neoplasm. "
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    ABSTRACT: A 69 year-old male patient with a history of malignant mesothelioma treated with chemotherapy and surgical resection with removal of the right lung and right pleural pneumonectomy was clinically in remission for 1 ½ years. A positron emission tomography (PET) scan revealed limited uptake in the right pleural space, thought to represent post-surgical changes, and uptake in the left thyroid lobe. Thyroid ultrasound revealed a solid left lobe nodule with peripheral vascularity and absent microcalcifications. Fine needle aspiration cytology showed a microfollicular arrangement of cytologically bland cells with variable Hürthle cell changes initially interpreted as suspicious for Hürthle cell neoplasm. Review at multidisciplinary conference raised the possibility of metastatic mesothelioma, supported by immunohistochemical studies in the cell block. The patient opted for left hemithyroidectomy with isthmusectomy which confirmed malignant mesothelioma. Repeat PET scan 6 months later revealed no further uptake in the thyroid bed, with limited uptake in the right pleural space. Metastatic tumors to the thyroid are uncommon with only one previous description of metastasis to the thyroid by mesothelioma. Metastasis of cytologically low grade tumors such as mesothelioma present problems for cytology due to the potential for overlap with the variable appearances of thyroid neoplasms. The value (if any) of ancillary tests, including mutation testing, expression profiling and immunohistochemistry is discussed.
    CytoJournal 05/2014; 11(1):11. DOI:10.4103/1742-6413.132984
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    • "This may be of particular concern when disease specific symptoms may be mild and when the organ affected (thyroid) is one that may be expected to produce systemic effects. Further, the fact that non-toxic goitres are often found by health care personnel or discovered with diagnostic procedures carried out for other reasons and thus by coincidence [24], may also lead to spurious attributions of symptoms and problems to non-toxic goitre. Some evidence suggests that attribution bias may be of particular concern in patients with hypothyroidism [30]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) assessments are increasingly used to evaluate treatment effects and to shape the delivery of value based care. Valid generic and disease specific tools are available for quantifying HRQoL in patients with non-toxic goitre. However, few studies have applied these validated instruments to assess HRQoL in patients with benign non-toxic goitre. Limited evidence suggests that patients with non-toxic goitre have HRQoL impairments in multiple HRQoL domains. While the HRQoL-impact of non-toxic goitre may be small relative to other severely disabling medical conditions, treatment is almost exclusively elected for HRQoL indications. Thus better quantification of HRQoL, particularly at higher levels, is essential. Web and mobile technologies have eased the ability to deliver surveys to patients. Routine consideration of HRQoL provides the opportunity to monitor the impact of treatment on the outcomes most meaningful for patients and the opportunity to help shape the delivery of value based healthcare.
    Best Practice & Research: Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 01/2014; 28(4):559–575. DOI:10.1016/j.beem.2014.01.009 · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    • "Numerous articles addressed the diagnostic value of incidental FDG uptake by a thyroid nodule. It actually corresponds to a non-malignant origin in a majority of cases, 70%, 59% or 65% as derived from two recent large series and a meta-analysis.35–37 "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) with 18F-fluorocholine (FCH) is routinely performed in patients with prostate cancer. In this clinical context, foci of FCH uptake in the head or in the neck were considered as incidentalomas, except for those suggestive of multiple bone metastases. Results In 8 patients the incidental focus corresponded to a benign tumour. The standard of truth was histology in two cases, correlative imaging with MRI in four cases, 99mTc-SestaMIBI scintigraphy, ultrasonography and biochemistry in one case and biochemistry including PTH assay in one case. The final diagnosis of benign tumours consisted in 3 pituitary adenomas, 2 meningiomas, 2 hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands and 1 thyroid adenoma. Malignancy was proven histologically in 2 other patients: 1 papillary carcinoma of the thyroid and 1 cerebellar metastasis. Conclusions To the best of our knowledge, FCH uptake by pituitary adenomas or hyperfunctioning parathyroid glands has never been described previously. We thus discuss whether there might be a future indication for FCH PET/CT when one such tumour is already known or suspected: to detect a residual or recurrent pituitary adenoma after surgery, to guide surgery or radiotherapy of a meningioma or to localise a hyperfunctioning parathyroid gland. In these potential indications, comparative studies with reference PET tracers or with 99mTc-sestaMIBI in case of hyperparathyroidism could be undertaken.
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