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Int J Pediatr Endocrinol. 2012 Sep 19;2012(1):25. doi: 10.1186/1687-9856-2012-25.

Medullary thyroid cancer in a 9-week-old infant with familial MEN 2B: Implications for timing of prophylactic thyroidectomy.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, MLC 7012, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH, 45229, USA.



Patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) are at high risk of developing aggressive medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) in childhood, with the highest risk in those with MEN type 2B (of whom >95% have an M918T RET proto-oncogene mutation). Metastatic MTC has been reported as young as 3 months of age. Current guidelines recommend prophylactic thyroidectomy within the first year of life for MEN 2B.


We report a 9-week-old infant with MTC due to familial MEN 2B. A full-term male infant, born to a mother with known MEN 2B and metastatic MTC, had an M918T RET proto-oncogene mutation confirmed at 4 weeks of age. He underwent prophylactic total thyroidectomy at 9 weeks of age. Pathology showed a focal calcitonin-positive nodule (2.5 mm), consistent with microscopic MTC.


This case highlights the importance of early prophylactic thyroidectomy in MEN 2B. Although current guidelines recommend surgery up to a year of life, MTC may occur in the first few weeks of life, raising the question of how early we should intervene. In this report, we discuss the risks, benefits and barriers to performing earlier thyroidectomy, soon after the first month of life, and make suggestions to facilitate timely intervention. Prenatal anticipatory surgical scheduling could be considered in familial MEN 2B. Multidisciplinary collaboration between adult and pediatric specialists is key to the optimal management of the infant at risk.

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