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Cytojournal. 2006 Apr 7;3:9. doi: 10.1186/1742-6413-3-9.

Fine-needle aspiration of follicular lesions of the thyroid. Diagnosis and follow-Up.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Contributed equally


The differential diagnosis of a follicular lesion/neoplasm in thyroid FNA specimens includes hyperplastic/adenomatoid nodule, follicular adenoma and carcinoma, and follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma. In our laboratory we separate follicular lesions of thyroid into hyperplastic/adenomatoid nodule (HN), follicular neoplasm (FON) and follicular derived neoplasm with focal nuclear features suspicious for papillary thyroid carcinoma (FDN). This study reports our experience with 339 cases diagnosed as FON and 120 as FDN. All cases were evaluated for histologic diagnosis, age, sex and size of the nodule. Histopathologic follow-up was available in all cases. The malignancy rate was 22% (74/359) and 72% (86/120) for cases diagnosed as FON and FDN, respectively. In the FON category almost half of the malignant cases were papillary carcinoma. The risk of malignancy was higher in patients younger than 40 yr (53% vs. 30%) than in patients 40 year or more years old and greater in males (41% vs. 33%) than females. No statistically significant relationship was noted between the sizes of the nodules and benign vs. malignant diagnosis. According to this study it is important to divide follicular patterned lesions of thyroid into FON and FDN in the cytology specimens due to significantly different risk of malignancy (22% vs. 72%). In addition, clinical features, including gender and age can be part of the decision analysis in selecting patients for surgery.

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