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Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association

Screening for medullary thyroid carcinoma with serum calcitonin measurements in patients with thyroid nodules in the United States and Canada.


PMID 21936671

Abstract

Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) is a rare thyroid malignancy with the potential for aggressive behavior. Measurement of serum calcitonin (Ct) in the thyroid nodule population is the most sensitive way to detect occult MTC. An important and controversial question is whether all patients with thyroid nodules should undergo Ct measurements to detect occult MTC. The prevalence of MTC detected by performing surgery on unselected individuals with thyroid nodules with elevated serum Ct is 0.4%. The central role of pentagastrin (PG) stimulation for triaging patients with minimally elevated serum Ct to prevent unnecessary surgery is reviewed. Data concerning a large reservoir of medullary thyroid microcarcinomas are discussed. Given the unavailability of PG in the United States and Canada, the available data argue against routine Ct measurements in all individuals with thyroid nodules in these countries because of the potential for unnecessary surgery and the uncertain benefit in diagnosing medullary microcarcinoma.

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B1636
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C37H49N7O9S