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Simultaneous occurrence of medullary and papillary thyroid microcarcinomas: a case series and review of the literature

Zaina Adnan1*, Eldad Arad1, James Dana2, Yaakov Shendler3 and Elzbieta Baron1

Author Affiliations

1 The Institute of Endocrinology, Zvulun Medical Center-Clalit Medical Services, Akko Str. 192, Kiryat Bialik, Israel

2 The Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, NH 03102, USA

3 The Institute of Pathology Carmel Medical Center, Haifa, Israel

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2013, 7:26  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-7-26

Published: 21 January 2013



Papillary thyroid microcarcinoma has been demonstrated to present in association with medullary thyroid carcinoma, however, medullary thyroid carcinoma and papillary thyroid carcinoma represent rare entities. In recent years this rarity has been increasingly observed. The pathogenesis is still controversial. Genetic analysis of RET proto-oncogenes in cases of simultaneous papillary thyroid carcinoma and medullary thyroid carcinoma has so far provided conflicting results; although it seems that germline mutations play a potential role in the development of both histological types.

Case presentations

This paper describes four rare cases of simultaneous medullary thyroid carcinoma and papillary thyroid microcarcinoma with unique features:

Case one was a 43-year-old Jewish woman, born in Israel, daughter of a Latvian immigrant mother and a father born in Israel. Case two was a 44-year-old Arab woman born in Israel. Case three was a 45-year-old Jewish woman, born in Israel, daughter of Moroccan immigrant parents and is unique for the presence of lymph node metastatic medullary thyroid carcinoma, and one lymph node with metastatic papillary carcinoma found in the same side. Case four was a 77-year-old Jewish woman, born in Iraq. These cases are unique in their composition of thyroid carcinoma, consisting of histologic features of medullary thyroid carcinoma, papillary thyroid microcarcinoma, and follicular thyroid adenoma. The four cases represent different ethnicity groups that live in north Israel, and case four is notable for the advanced age of the patient (77 years).


These four cases add more data supporting the coincidental coexistence of papillary thyroid microcarcinoma and medullary thyroid carcinoma; our results may suggest that the simultaneous occurrence of medullary thyroid carcinoma and papillary thyroid microcarcinoma is generally a simple reflection of this coincidence. Endocrinologists and pathologists should be aware of this entity. The pathologist can play a pivotal role in identifying papillary thyroid microcarcinoma in concurrent existence with medullary thyroid carcinoma.

Calcitonin RET proto-oncogene; Medullary thyroid carcinoma; Papillary thyroid carcinoma; Papillary thyroid microcarcinoma