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Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia & Metabologia

On-line version ISSN 1677-9487


LUNDGREN, Catharina Ihre; DELBRIDG, Leigh; LEAROYD, Diana  and  ROBINSON, Bruce. Surgical approach to medullary thyroid cancer. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metab [online]. 2007, vol.51, n.5, pp.818-824. ISSN 1677-9487.

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) compromises 3-5% of all thyroid cancers and arises from parafollicular or calcitonin-producing C cells. It may be sporadic (75% of cases), or may occur as a manifestation of either the hereditary syndrome Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2A or MEN 2B) (25% of cases), or rarely as an isolated familial syndrome (FMTC). Complete surgical resection comprising in most cases total thyroidectomy with central lymph node dissection at an early stage of the disease is the only potential cure for MTC. The familial form of the disease, MEN-2A occupies a unique place in surgical history, having been the first disease where surgical removal of an affected organ was undertaken before the development of malignancy, solely on the basis of genetic testing. Total thyroidectomy prior to the development of invasive cancer completely avoids an otherwise lethal malignancy. Timing of prophylactic surgery is based on models that utilise genotype-phenotype correlations, which have now been stratified into three risk groups based on the specific codon involved. MTC should be followed with postoperative serial serum calcitonin levels to survey for persistent or recurrent disease as indicated by detectable levels. The challenge however, if calcitonin levels are increased, is to find the source of its production. The first localisation technique recommended would be ultrasound of the neck, since there is a high frequency of local recurrence and cervical node metastasis, followed by a total body CT scan and bone scintigraphy.

Keywords : Medullary thyroid cancer; Surgery; RET gene; Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2.

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