Bayan Alzumaili , MD 1 , Bin Xu , MD, PhD 2 , Philip M. Spanheimer , MD 3 , R Michael Tuttle , MD 4 , Eric Sherman , MD 5 , Nora Katabi , MD 2 , Snjezana Dogan , MD 2 , Ian Ganly , MD, PhD 3 , Brian R. Untch , MD 3 , Ronald A. Ghossein , MD 2
20 April 2020
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) is a rare non-follicular cell-derived tumor. A robust grading system may help better stratify patients at risk for recurrence and death from disease. One hundred forty-four MTC between 1988 and 2018 were subjected to a detailed histopathologic evaluation. Clinical and pathologic data were correlated with disease specific survival (DSS), local recurrence free survival (LRFS) and distant metastasis free survival (DMFS). Median age was 53 years (range: 3–88). Median tumor size was 1.8 cm (range: 0.2–11). Lymph node metastases were present in 84 (58%) cases while distant metastases at presentation were found in 9 (6%) patients. Seven (5%) had ≥5 mitoses/10 HPFs. Tumor necrosis was present in 30 cases (20%) while lymphovascular invasion occurred in 41 (28%) of tumors. Extra-thyroidal extension was found in 44 (31%) and positive margins were seen in 19 (14%). There was a strong correlation between increasing tumor size and tumor necrosis (p<0.001). Median follow up was 39 months. In univariate analysis, male gender, higher AJCC stage group, larger tumor size, tumor necrosis, high mitotic index (≥5/10 HPF), nodal status, size of largest nodal metastasis, and elevated post-operative serum calcitonin predicted worse DSS, LRFS and DMFS (p<0.05). Extra-thyroidal extension correlated with DSS and DMFS while positive margins and distant metastasis at presentation imparted worse DSS (p<0.05). In multivariate analysis, tumor necrosis and mitotic activity (5 mitosis/10 HPFs as the cutoff) were the only independent predictors for DSS (p=0.008 and 0.026 respectively). Tumor necrosis was the sole independent prognostic factor for LRFS and DMFS (p=0.001 and 0.003 respectively). The presence of tumor necrosis and high mitotic rate are powerful independent prognostic factors in MTC and outperform serum calcitonin and stage. We propose a grading system based on tumor necrosis and mitotic activity to better stratify MTC patients for counseling, post resection surveillance and therapy.