Histopathology of C Cells and Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma

  • Kurt Werner SchmidEmail author
Part of the Recent Results in Cancer Research book series (volume 204)


The human thyroid gland contains less than 0.01–0.1 % calcitonin producing and secreting C cells, which in men are almost exclusively situated in an intrafollicular location; the vast majority of C cells are embryologically derived of remnants of the ultimobranchial body and ultimately of the neural crest, a small subset, however, is presumed to originate from endodermal stem cells. Thyroid tumours with C cell differentiation have been named medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC); calcitonin is also produced and secreted by MTC which makes this peptide hormone a very useful serum marker both for early detection and clinical follow-up of patients with MTC. About 70–80 % of MTC are sporadic tumours, whereas 20–30 % are familial MTC which are autosomal-dominant inherited and caused by germline mutations of the RET proto-oncogene located on chromosome 10. This article summarizes the histological, immunhistochemical and molecular genetic features of C cells, C-cell hyperplasia (CCH) and MTC, emphasizing the role of diagnostic pathology.


C cells C-cell hyperplasia Medullary thyroid carcinoma Sporadic Familial MEN 2 


Author Disclosure Statement

The author has nothing to disclose, no competing financial interests exist.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Pathology, University Hospital EssenUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

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