Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma and Variants

  • Manon Auger
  • Edward B. Stelow
  • Grace C. H. Yang
  • Miguel A. Sanchez
  • Sylvia L. Asa
  • Virginia A. Livolsi


Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is the most common malignant neoplasm of the thyroid, accounting for approximately 80% of all cancers at this site. It occurs in all age groups, including children, with a peak incidence in the third to fourth decades, and the M:F ratio is 1:3. Risk factors include external radiation to the neck during childhood, ionizing radiation, genetic factors, and nodular hyperplasia. PTC usually presents as a thyroid nodule, often discovered incidentally on routine examination; rarely, patients present with metastatic disease in the neck lymph nodes. PTC spreads via lymphatics to the regional lymph nodes and, less frequently, to the lungs. It generally carries a good prognosis; death secondary to PTC is rare.

A malignant thyroid FNA diagnosis accounts for 4–8% of all thyroid FNAs, the majority of them PTCs. When a definite diagnosis of PTC is made by FNA, 96–100% prove to be PTC on histologic follow-up. Conventional PTCs are characterized histologically by numerous papillae lined by cuboidal to low columnar follicular cells with characteristic nuclear features (see below). Although traditionally considered the most common type of PTC, conventional PTC is diminishing in relative frequency as compared to PTC variants, especially in view of the increasing awareness and recognition of the follicular variant of PTC (FVPTC).


Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Nodular Goiter Follicular Adenoma Explanatory Note Nuclear Feature 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manon Auger
    • 1
  • Edward B. Stelow
    • 2
  • Grace C. H. Yang
    • 3
  • Miguel A. Sanchez
    • 4
  • Sylvia L. Asa
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • Virginia A. Livolsi
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of PathologyMcGill University Health Center and McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of Virginia Health SystemCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PathologyWeill Medical College of Cornell UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of PathologyEnglewood Hospital and Medical CenterEnglewoodUSA
  5. 5.Department of Pathology and Laboratory MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  6. 6.University Health Network and Toronto Medical LaboratoriesTorontoCanada
  7. 7.Ontario Cancer InstituteTorontoCanada
  8. 8.Departments of Pathology and Laboratory MedicineUniversity of Pennsylvania Medical CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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