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Palpable Pediatric Thyroid Abnormalities – Diagnostic Pitfalls Necessitate A High Index Of Clinical Suspicion: A Case Report

J. Klopper, M. Mcdermott
Published 2007 · Medicine

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A 12-year-old girl presented with a 4 year history of an enlarged, firm thyroid gland. On exam, her thyroid was firm and fixed and an enlarged cervical lymph node was palpable as well. Though a thyroid ultrasound prior to referral was read as thyroiditis, clinical suspicion for thyroid carcinoma mandated continued investigation. The diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer was established and her workup revealed lymph node metastases as well as a tremendous burden of pulmonary metastases. Pediatric thyroid cancer is extremely rare, but often presents with aggressive disease. Palpable thyroid abnormalities in an individual under 20-years-old should be viewed with suspicion and should be thoroughly investigated to rule out malignancy even in the face of negative diagnostic procedures. Though pediatric papillary thyroid cancer often presents with loco-regional and even distant metastatic disease, mortality rates in follow-up for as long as 20 years are very favorable.
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