Mutations in the RET proto-oncogene have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several forms of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN-2) is an autosomal dominant syndrome caused by germline activating mutations of the RET proto-oncogene and has been categorized into three distinct clinical forms. MEN-2A is associated with MTC, bilateral pheochromocytoma, and primary hyperparathyroidism. MEN-2B is associated with MTC, bilateral pheochromocytoma, and mucosal neuromas. The rarest clinical form of MEN-2 is familial MTC (FMTC), which is also associated with MTC, but other endocrinopathies are characteristically not present. Each clinical form of MEN-2 results from a specific RET gene mutation, with a strong correlation of phenotype expression with regard to the onset and course of MTC and the presence of other endocrine tumors and a corresponding genotype. Recommendations for screening of RET mutations are necessary as their presence or absence will influence interventional strategies such as the timing of a prophylactic thyroidectomy and extent of surgery. Timing of screenings and development of interventional strategies are extremely important in caring for patients with certain RET mutations as evidence of metastatic MTC has been documented as early as 6 years of age. Interventional strategies should consider the risks of complications of these interventions based on certain characteristics of each individual case such as age of the patient, course of disease in affected family members, and the invasiveness of any proposed surgical procedure.
Conflict of interest:None declared.