Cytologic features of a case of mixed medullary and follicular cell-derived thyroid carcinoma with review of the literature

Meagan Chambers, Laura J. Tafe, Edward J. Gutmann, Darcy A. Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mixed medullary and follicular cell-derived thyroid carcinoma (MMFTC) is a rare primary thyroid carcinoma with morphologic and immunophenotypic evidence of admixed parafollicular and follicular cell-derived tumor populations within the same tumor. We herein present the fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) cytology of a case of MMFTC that was diagnosed histologically and discuss potential clues to the diagnosis for cytologists. We also provide a literature review of this uncommon primary thyroid tumor. The patient was a 47-year-old man with a history of hypothyroidism who presented with ear and neck pain. Imaging demonstrated thyroid nodules with regional lymphadenopathy. FNAB samples of two thyroid nodules and an involved lymph node were diagnosed as papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). The subsequent total thyroidectomy specimen demonstrated classic-type PTC which transitioned to a morphologically and immunophenotypically distinct medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) component within the same lesion, indicative of MMFTC. The patient experienced recurrence of the medullary component 20 months later and received chemotherapy with subsequent external beam radiation. As in this case, the cytologic diagnosis of MMFTC is almost never made prospectively. Retrospective review of the preoperative FNAB samples showed subtle cytomorphologic features suggestive of MTC in two of three biopsies, an impression confirmed by calcitonin immunohistochemistry on cell block material. In the broader literature, most MMFTCs on FNAB have been diagnosed as MTC, which is usually the more aggressive component of the mixed neoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E125-E129
JournalDiagnostic cytopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • carcinoma
  • case report
  • cytology
  • diagnosis
  • differential
  • medullary
  • thyroid neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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