18F-PET/CT imaging of metastasis to the thyroid gland: Imaging findings and effect on patient management

Giovanni G. Millare, Michael Kwon, Beth S. Edeiken-Monroe, J. Matthew Debnam


Purpose: While metastasis to the thyroid from a primary cancer remote to the thyroid is uncommon, current imaging techniques have improved detection of these intrathyroid metastases. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the 18F- PET/CT appearance of intrathyroid metastases and assess the impact of detection on patient management.

Methods: The 18F-PET/CT appearance of intrathyroid metastasis, including standardized uptake value (SUV), disease extent, and the effect on patient management following diagnosis were retrospectively reviewed. Inclusion criteria included 18F-PET/CT imaging and diagnosis of the intrathyroid metastasis matching the remote primary tumor.

Results: Intrathyroid metastasis were detected in 24 patients. The intrathyroid metastases presented on 18F-PET/CT as focal nodular uptake (n = 21), multiple nodular uptake (n = 2), or diffuse uptake/infiltration of the thyroid gland (n = 1). The SUV ranged between 3.9 and 42 (median 12.5 ± 7.5); in 2 patients, the FDG-avidity was minimal. On 18F-PET/CT, distant metastases were present outside the neck (n = 18), or limited to the neck (n = 6). In 2 of these 6 patients, the thyroid was the only site of metastatic disease. Due to the metastatic disease, the therapy was changed in 23 of 24 patients; 1 patient was lost to follow-up.

Conclusion: In any patient with a previous or current history of an extrathyroid malignancy, an 18FDG-avid thyroid mass or diffuse infiltration of the thyroid on 18F-PET/CT should be considered a potential intrathyoid metastasis until proven otherwise. Knowledge of an intrathyroid metastasis may impact patient management, especially if the thyroid or neck are the only sites of metastatic disease.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jst.v7n2p7

Journal of Solid Tumors

ISSN 1925-4067(Print)   ISSN 1925-4075(Online)

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