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Endocr Pract. 2008 Apr;14(3):351-7.

Medullary thyroid carcinoma manifesting as an ovarian mass: case report and review of literature.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, San Mateo Medical Center, San Francisco, California, USA.



To report the uncommon case of a woman with abdominal pain and a complex adnexal mass, who was subsequently found to have medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) metastatic to the ovary.


We present the clinical history, physical findings, laboratory and imaging studies, and pathologic findings in a woman with metastatic MTC and locally aggressive disease. The genetic associations, variable clinical course, and histopathologic findings in MTC are reviewed.


A 38-year-old woman with abdominal and pelvic pain underwent a computed tomographic scan of the abdomen, which showed a complex left adnexal mass. After laparoscopic left oophorectomy, histopathologic analysis of the resected ovary suggested the presence of a metastatic neuroendocrine tumor. The patient recovered but was referred to the surgery clinic 3 months later because of hoarseness, a left neck mass, and left-sided vocal cord paralysis. Further work-up was suggestive of MTC, which prompted RET testing for multiple endocrine neoplasia. The patient underwent left thyroid lobectomy and selective lymph node dissection but later required tracheostomy because of tumoral invasion of the trachea, laser debulking of the tumor, and external beam radiation therapy. One year postoperatively, development of a metastatic lesion in her right ovary necessitated a second oophorectomy.


MTC usually manifests as a solitary thyroid nodule but should be considered in patients with metastatic lesions characterized by neuroendocrine features. This unusual case highlights the biologic and clinical variability of this often aggressive thyroid cancer, which necessitates an attentive work-up, a rigorous operative strategy, and a periodic postoperative surveillance program.

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