Virchows Archiv A

, Volume 404, Issue 2, pp 117–126 | Cite as

Undifferentiated thyroid tumors of diffuse small cell type

Histological and immunohistochemical evidence for their lymphomatous nature
  • A. Tobler
  • R. Maurer
  • Chr E. Hedinger


A histological review of 72 undifferentiated thyroid tumors was performed in order to discover small cell anaplastic carcinomas and Non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Cases suspected to be lymphoma were examined for the presence of Ig and keratin and lectins with a PAP-procedure.

Among the 72 cases, 68 (94,5%) were anaplastic carcinomas of various types. Four cases (5,5%) were diffuse small cell tumors, which had previously been regarded as anaplastic carcinomas. All four could be identified as Non-Hodgkin lymphomas by histology, immunohistochemistry, repeat biopsy or autopsy.

The findings suggest that- the majority of small cell anaplastic thyroid tumors are lymphomas and that true anaplastic small cell carcinoma of the thyroid must be extremely rare. Its diagnosis requires electronmicroscopy and/or immunohistochemistry to demonstrate the epithelial nature of tumor cells.

Key words

Thyroid neoplasms Undifferentiated carcinomas Lymphomas 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aldinger KA, Samaan NA, Ibanez M, Hill CS (1978) Anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid. A review of 84 cases of spindle and giant cell carcinoma of the thyroid. Cancer 41:2267–2275Google Scholar
  2. Burke JS, Butler JJ, Fuller LM (1977) Malignant lymphomas of the thyroid. A clinical pathologic study of 35 patients including ultrastructural observations. Cancer 39:1587–1601Google Scholar
  3. Cameron RG, Seemayer TA, Wang NS, Ahmed MN, Tabah EJ (1975) Small cell malignant tumors of the thyroid. A light and electron microscopic study. Hum Pathol 6:731–740Google Scholar
  4. Chak LY, Hoppe RT, Burke JS, Kaplan HS (1981) Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma presenting as thyroid enlargement. Cancer 48:2712–2716Google Scholar
  5. Compagno J, Oertel JE (1980) Malignant lymphoma and other lymphoproliferative disorders of the thyroid gland. A clinicopathologic study of 245 cases. Am J Clin Pathol 74:1–11Google Scholar
  6. Egloff B (1977) Nicht- epitheliale Geschwülste der Schilddrüse. Verh Dtsch Ges Pathol 61:209–223Google Scholar
  7. Hedinger C, Sobin L (1974) Histological typing to thyroid tumors. International histological classification of tumors No. 11. Geneva: World Health Organization 1974Google Scholar
  8. Heimann R, Vannineuse A, de Sloover C, Dor P (1978) Malignant lymphomas and undifferentiated small cell carcinoma of the thyroid: a clinicopathological review in the light of the Kiel classification for malignant lymphomas. Histopathology 2:201–313Google Scholar
  9. Knecht H, Saremaslani P, Hedinger C (1981) Immunohistological findings in Hashimoto's thyroiditis, focal lymphocytic thyroiditis and thyroiditis de Quervain. Comparative study. Virchows Arch [Pathol Anat] 393:215–231Google Scholar
  10. Lennert K (1978) Malignant lymphomas other than Hodgkin's disease. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Lukes RJ, Parker JW, Taylor CR, Tindle BH, Cramer AD, Lincoln TL (1978) Immunologic approach to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and related leukemias. An analysis of the results of multiparameter studies of 425 cases. Semin Hematol 15:322–351Google Scholar
  12. Macaulay RAA, Dewar AE, Langlands AO, Stuart AE (1978) Cell receptor studies on six anaplastic tumours of the thyroid. J Clin Pathol 31:461–468Google Scholar
  13. Maurer R, Taylor CR, Terry R, Lukes RJ (1979) Non-Hodgkin lymphomas of the thyroid. A clinico-pathological review of 29 cases applying the Lukes-Collins classification and an immunoperoxidase method. Virchows Arch [Pathol Anat] 383:293–317Google Scholar
  14. Maurer R, Taylor CR, Parker JW, Cramer A, Lukes RJ (1982) Immunoblastic sarcoma: Morphologic criteria and the distinction of B and T cell types. Oncology 39:42–50Google Scholar
  15. Meissner WA, Phillips MJ (1962) Diffuse small-cell carcinoma of the thyroid. Arch Pathol Lab Med 74:291–297Google Scholar
  16. Meissner WA, Warren J (1969) Tumors of the thyroid gland. Atlas of tumor pathology, 2nd series, Fasc. 4, Washington: Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, 121–123Google Scholar
  17. Neracher H, Hedinger C (1975) Klassifizierung der Schilddrüsenmalignome nach der Nomenklatur der WHO 1974. Schweiz Med Wochenschr 105:1000–1036Google Scholar
  18. Rayfield EJ, Nishiyama RH, Sisson JC (1971) Small cell tumors of the thyroid. A clinicopathologic study. Cancer 28:1023–1030Google Scholar
  19. Saito R, Sharma K (1975) Fine structure of a diffuse undifferentiated small-cell carcinoma of the thyroid. Am J Clin Pathol 65:623–630Google Scholar
  20. Schwarze EW, Papadimitriou CS (1980) Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the thyroid. Pathol Res Pract 167:346–362Google Scholar
  21. Schwechheimer K, Weiss G, Schnabel P, Möller P (1984) Lectin target cells in human central nervous system and the pituitary gland. Histochemistry 80:165–169Google Scholar
  22. Williams ED (1981) Malignant lymphoma of the thyroid. Clin Endocrinol Metab 10:379–389Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Tobler
    • 1
  • R. Maurer
    • 1
  • Chr E. Hedinger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of Zurich School of MedicineZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations