Human pathology

The immunohistochemical localization of S100 in the diagnosis of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid.

PMID 8698304


In general, the diagnosis of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid is readily achieved based on a defined aggregate of histopathologic features. A papillary architecture is an important but not pivotal component of the diagnosis. The recognition of classic nuclear features is the essential diagnostic element. However, both the architectural and cytological hallmarks may be encountered in other conditions and produce problems in histopathologic interpretation. A papillary architecture may be encountered in hyperplastic areas of follicular neoplasms, multinodular goiter, and Graves' disease. Moreover, there may be scattered cells within several thyroid lesions that display some of the nuclear characteristics of papillary carcinoma. The distinction of these lesions from papillary carcinoma has important implications for clinical management. Thus, the availability of supportive diagnostic evidence would be helpful. In the authors' experience, the strong expression of S100 is of value in identifying papillary neoplasia and distinguishing it from examples of papillary hyperplasia. It is of supportive but not conclusive use in distinguishing follicular adenoma from the follicular variant of papillary carcinoma. The authors stress that the overwhelming factor in the distinction remains the identification of the nuclear characteristics of a papillary carcinoma. However, the authors have encountered several cases wherein the latter are either focal or absent for reasons addressed previously and have found immunohistochemistry a valuable adjunct to diagnosis. In examining papillary foci within Graves' disease, caution must be exercised; S100 expression is a phenomenon of the hyperplastic, hyperfunctional state.

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