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Endocr Pract. 2001 Nov-Dec;7(6):467-73.

Two tumors detected by thyroid assessment in two children.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216-4505, USA.



To describe the early detection of two tumors in two children by recognition of unusual features in initial thyroid assessments.


We present the clinical findings and results of laboratory studies in two children. In addition, we describe RET proto-oncogene studies in one of them.


A 14.5-year-old boy was referred for assessment because of short stature in conjunction with lack of physical growth and development. His physical examination was remarkable for height at the 50th percentile (height age, 11.5 years), weight at the 50th percentile (weight age, 13 years), and prepubertal male status. Pertinent laboratory findings were a normal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level but low free thyroxine (FT4) index. These findings prompted an immediate magnetic resonance imaging study of the head. A parasellar tumor was detected and removed; histopathologic examination revealed that it was a craniopharyngioma. The patient requires lifelong multihormonal therapy for his panhypopituitarism and has responded with physical growth. Our second patient, a 7.5-year-old girl, was referred because of a painless left thyroid nodule of 4 months' duration. Her physical examination was remarkable for (1) upper lip swelling, (2) intermittent rash, and (3) a goiter with painless mobile left and right nodules. Normal levels of TSH and FT4, serum calcitonin of 6,192 pg/mL, and a fine-needle biopsy specimen that stained strongly for calcitonin were obtained at her first clinic visit. A total thyroidectomy was performed and confirmed the presence of medullary thyroid carcinoma. Genetic studies showed that she was positive for the RET multiple endocrine neoplasia IIB mutation. After 4 years of follow-up, the patient had serum calcitonin levels that remained low (<2.2 pg/mL).


Attention to thyroid physical findings and laboratory studies can promptly lead to correct diagnoses and management of some rare and life-threatening tumors in children.

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