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Cytopathology. 2017 Dec;28(6):495-502. doi: 10.1111/cyt.12459. Epub 2017 Sep 3.

The impact of the non-invasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear feature terminology in the routine diagnosis of thyroid tumours.

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Department of Medicine and Surgery, Section of Pathology, University Milan Bicocca, Monza, Italy.
Department of Endocrinology, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy.
Department of Surgery, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy.
Department of Surgical Pathology, Centro Diagnostico Italiano, Milan, Italy.



Due to the recent proposal of the non-invasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear feature (NIFTP) category, the authors analyse the state of the art in the challenging diagnosis of follicular thyroid neoplasms in routine practice.


A consecutive series of 200 histological diagnoses, with complete cytological correlation, was analysed following the introduction of the NIFTP definition. The study was conducted in a general hospital with a high prevalence of thyroid benign nodules that accounted for approximately 60% of surgically-treated nodules. The significant incidence of the new NIFTP category was 7%. Concurrently, a gradual decrease of the follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (fvPTC) was observed (3.5%). When evaluating the FNA biopsies within the NIFTP group, despite the systematic evaluation of nuclear crowding, enlargement, irregularities and clearing, the final cytological class was often indeterminate for malignancy (Thy3/III-IV, 71%). At histology, the application of the semiquantitative NIFTP score for the evaluation of the PTC-like nuclear features was able to discriminate benign lesions (score 0/1) from fvPTC (score 2/3). A certain degree of overlapping still persisted between NIFTP and fvPTC (score 2) or between NIFTP and benign lesions (score 1).


In the routine evaluation of FNA biopsies, the presence of subtle and questionable PTC-like nuclear features still remains a controversial aspect of the diagnostic workflow. Given that the NIFTP category was introduced to stratify the low-risk group of thyroid tumours more precisely, pathologists should force themselves to apply the nuclear score rigorously and to classify cases assigned a score of 1 as benign proliferations.


follicular variant papillary thyroid carcinoma; noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear feature ; thyroid carcinoma

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