Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are a heterogeneous group of neoplasms whose management can be problematic. In many cases, multiple tumours may occur in the same patient or his or her family, and some of these have now been defined genetically, although in other cases the underlying gene or genes involved remain unclear. We describe a patient, a 63-year-old female, who was diagnosed with a medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), which was confirmed pathologically after thyroidectomy, but whose circulating calcitonin levels remained elevated after thyroidectomy with no evidence of metastatic disease. Subsequently, an entirely separate and discrete duodenal NET was identified; this was 2.8 cm in diameter and was removed at partial duodenectomy. The tumour stained immunohistochemically for calcitonin, and its removal led to persistent normalisation of the circulating calcitonin levels. There was no germline mutation of the RET oncogene. This is the first identification of a duodenal NET secreting calcitonin and also the first demonstration of a second tumour secreting calcitonin in a patient with MTC. We suggest that where calcitonin levels remain high after removal of a MTC a search for other NETs should be conducted.
NETs are a complex and heterogeneous group of related neoplasms, and multiple tumours may occur in the same patient.
Calcitonin can be produced ectopically by several tumours outside the thyroid.
Persistently elevated calcitonin levels after removal of a MTC may not necessarily indicate persisting or metastatic disease from the tumour.
The real prevalence of calcitonin-producing NETs may be underestimated, as serum determination is only recommended in the diagnosis of pancreatic NETs.