Aims: Hobnail variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) is an aggressive PTC subtype characterised by a hobnail cytomorphology. However, some classic PTC have a ‘hobnail-like’ cytomorphology associated with thick, hyalinised, variably oedematous fibrovascular cores that appears to be a form of ischaemic/degenerative atypia. Methods and results: We studied three cohorts to compare the histopathological characteristics and clinical outcome of ‘hobnail-like’ classic PTC and true hobnail variant of PTC: cohort 1, PTC consecutively resected between 2016 and 2017 (to assess frequency of ‘hobnail-like’ cytomorphology); cohort 2, 20 ‘hobnail-like’ classic PTC resected between 2005 and 2007 (to assess clinical outcome); and cohort 3, seven true hobnail variant of PTC. A ‘hobnail-like’ cytomorphology was identified in 16% of consecutively resected PTC. Compared with true hobnail variant, ‘hobnail-like’ classic PTC occurred in younger patients (mean age 40 years versus 68 years, P < 0.001), were smaller tumours (mean tumour size 2.1 cm versus 4.4 cm, P < 0.001), had a lower rate of gross extrathyroidal extension (0% versus 71%, P < 0.001), had a lower proliferative rate (≥3 mitoses per 10 high-power fields seen in 0% versus 71%, P < 0.001; Ki67 index ≥5% in 0% versus 86%, P < 0.001), a lower rate of secondary pathogenic mutations (for cases with molecular data, 0% versus 100%, P = 0.0061) and improved survival (for cases with sufficient clinical outcome data, 10-year disease-free survival of 93% versus 0%, P = 0.0016). Conclusion: Classic PTC can show ischaemic/degenerative atypia that mimics the hobnail cytomorphology of true hobnail variant; however, these tumours lack aggressive histopathological features and pursue an indolent clinical course.
- hobnail variant
- papillary thyroid carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine