Four patients with cutaneous metastases from medullary thyroid cancer

Libero Santarpia, Adel K. El-Naggar, Steven I. Sherman, Sharon R. Hymes, Robert F. Gagel, Stephanie Shaw, Nicholas J. Sarlis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cutaneous metastasis from thyroid cancer, especially medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is rare. We report four patients with cutaneous metastases from sporadic MTC, three women and one man, aged 50 to 69 years. They presented different cutaneous lesions phenotypes. The first patient had a remote history of MTC and initial presentation of the recurrence was a rapidly progressing cutaneous lesion; on subsequent disease staging, widely metastatic disease was discovered. The other three patients developed cutaneous metastases in the presence of known distant metastases, indicating systemic spread of thyroid cancer. Definitive diagnosis of cutaneous metastases of MTC was made on biopsy of the lesions with cells that stained positive for neuroendocrine markers. Accurate diagnosis of cutaneous metastasis from MTC is important because it is a negative prognostic factor indicative of multisystemic disease. Thus, MTC metastases should be included in the differential diagnosis of erythematous maculopapular eruptions and nodular lesions of the skin, especially when these metastases occur in the upper part of the body and if the patient has a history of MTC. The appearing of cutaneous metastasis is a negative prognostic factor since all the patients here described died within one year from the diagnosis of cutaneous metastases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-905
Number of pages5
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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