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CytoJournal 2017,  14:16

Metastatic neoplasms to the thyroid diagnosed by fine-needle aspiration/core needle biopsy: Clinicopathologic and cytomorphologic correlation

1 Department of Pathology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
2 Department of Pathology, The Queens Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
3 Department of Pathology, University of Hawaii; Department of Pathology, The Queens Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Correspondence Address:
Pamela Tauchi-Nishi
Department of Pathology, University of Hawaii; Department of Pathology, The Queens Medical Center, Honolulu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cytojournal.cytojournal_50_16

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Background: Although thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and core needle biopsy (CNB) are commonly utilized modalities in the evaluation of thyroid nodules, metastatic tumors to the thyroid are only rarely encountered. We aspired to determine the incidence and primary origin of metastases to the thyroid at our institution and to examine their clinicopathologic and cytomorphologic features. Materials and Methods: A search of our database was undertaken to review all thyroid FNA and/or CNB examined between January 2004 and December 2013. Results: During our 10 year study period, 7497 patients underwent 13,182 FNA and/or CNB. Four hundred sixty one (6%) patients were diagnosed with neoplasms. Only five (1.1%) were found to have metastatic tumors to the thyroid involving three females and two males. Two were diagnosed by FNA, one by CNB, and two by both FNA and CNB, with rapid on-site evaluation (ROSE) employed in all cases. The primary malignancies in the five cases were pulmonary and nasopharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas, renal cell carcinoma, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and olfactory neuroblastoma. The cytomorphologic features of these metastases to the thyroid aided in their distinction from primary thyroid carcinoma. Two of these metastases, a renal cell carcinoma and pancreatic adenocarcinoma, were the first clinical manifestations of cancer. Conclusion: Metastases to the thyroid diagnosed by FNA and/or CNB are exceedingly rare in our institution, comprising only 0.04% of total FNA/CNB and only 1.1% of all thyroid neoplasms. We report the first known case of metastatic olfactory neuroblastoma to the thyroid diagnosed by aspiration cytology. In addition, an occult primary may present as a thyroid mass on FNA or CNB as occurred with two of our cases. FNA/CNB proved to be highly effective in the diagnosis of metastases to the thyroid, with ROSE proving valuable in assuring specimen adequacy. Thyroid FNA and CNB demonstrated great utility in the setting of metastatic disease, obviating the need for more invasive procedures.


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