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Medullary thyroid cancer: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and staging

R Michael Tuttle, MD
Section Editor
Douglas S Ross, MD
Deputy Editor
Jean E Mulder, MD


Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a neuroendocrine tumor of the parafollicular or C cells of the thyroid gland. MTC accounts for approximately 1 to 2 percent of thyroid cancers in the United States [1]. The production of calcitonin is a characteristic feature of this tumor. The C cells originate from the embryonic neural crest; as a result, medullary carcinomas often have the clinical and histologic features of other neuroendocrine tumors such as carcinoid and islet-cell tumors.

Most medullary thyroid carcinomas are sporadic. However, about 25 percent are familial as part of the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) syndrome. The clinical manifestations, diagnosis, evaluation, and clinical staging of MTC will be covered in this topic review. Treatment of this disorder is discussed separately. MEN2 is reviewed in detail elsewhere.

(See "Medullary thyroid cancer: Treatment and prognosis".)

(See "Classification and genetics of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2".)

(See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jul 18, 2016.
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