Results of early thyroidectomy for medullary thyroid carcinoma in children with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2

Robert L. Telander*, Donald Zimmerman, Jon A. van Heerden, Glen W. Sizemore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Children with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) often develop medullary carcinoma of the thyroid (MCT) or its precursor, C-cell hyperplasia. Survival results are improved if malignancy is diagnosed early from the results of plasma immunoreactive calcitonin (iCT) measurement. The effect of early detection and thyroidectomy in children with MEN2 syndrome was determined by reviewing the experience between 1975 and 1985. Seventeen children with MEN2 who were 12 years old or younger underwent a total thyroidectomy for MCT or C-cell hyperplasia. iCT was measured in all patients preoperatively and postoperatively. Of the 17 children, 14 (82%) had MEN2a and 3 (18%) had MEN2b. There were 14 (82%) female and three (18%) male patients; their mean age was 6.97 years (range 1.5 to 12 years). In all patients, the diagnosis of MCT was made from initial elevated levels of iCT after stimulation with pentagastrin. Three patients had clinical evidence of disease preoperatively. All patients underwent a total thyroidectomy and lymph nodes were removed from the central zone; a neck dissection was performed in the three with clinically obvious disease. MCT with C-cell hyperplasia was found in 11 children and C-cell hyperplasia alone in six. Of the 11 with carcinoma, eight had bilateral disease and three unilateral. Six children had bilateral C-cell hyperplasia. All 17 children were alive and feeling well at the time of this report; however, three had evidence of metastatic disease according to iCT measurements. None of the children had recurrent nerve injuries; one had evidence of hypoparathyroidism. All 14 children with occult disease diagnosed by iCT determinations survived and remained free of disease at follow-up. The three children with clinical disease when first examined, although alive, are presumed to have persistent metastatic disease. The youngest child with C-cell hyperplasia at operation was 20 months old, and the youngest with MCT was 3 years old. Therefore, we recommend initiating screening at age 1 year and total thyroidectomy when the diagnosis is made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1190-1194
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1986


  • MEN2
  • medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • thyroidectomy, in children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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