Risk of malignancy in thyroid incidentalomas identified by fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography

A Reum Chun, Hye Min Jo, Seoung Ho Lee, Hong Woo Chun, Jung Mi Park, Kyu Jin Kim, Chan Hee Jung, Ji Oh Mok, Sung Koo Kang, Chul Hee Kim, Bo Yeon Kim
Endocrinology and Metabolism 2015 March 27, 30 (1): 71-7

BACKGROUND: Thyroid incidentalomas detected by 2-deoxy-2-18F-fluoro-D-glucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT) have been reported in 1% to 4% of the population, with a risk of malignancy of 27.8% to 74%. We performed a retrospective review of FDG-avid thyroid incidentalomas in cancer screening subjects and patients with nonthyroid cancer. The risk of malignancy in thyroid incidentaloma and its association with the maximal standardized uptake value (SUVmax) in 18F-FDG PET/CT were evaluated to define the predictor variables in assessing risk of malignancy.

METHODS: A total of 2,584 subjects underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT for metastatic evaluation or cancer screening from January 2005 to January 2010. Among them, 36 subjects with FDG-avid thyroid incidentalomas underwent further diagnostic evaluation (thyroid ultrasonography-guided fine needle aspiration cytology [FNAC] or surgical resection). We retrospectively reviewed the database of these subjects.

RESULTS: Of the 2,584 subjects who underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT (319 for cancer screening and 2,265 for metastatic evaluation), 52 (2.0%) were identified as having FDG-avid thyroid incidentaloma and cytologic diagnosis was obtained by FNAC in 36 subjects. Of the subjects, 15 were proven to have malignant disease: 13 by FNAC and two by surgical resection. The positive predictive value of malignancy in FDG-avid thyroid incidentaloma was 41.7%. Median SUVmax was higher in malignancy than in benign lesions (4.7 [interquartile range (IQR), 3.4 to 6.0] vs. 2.8 [IQR, 2.6 to 4.0], P=0.001).

CONCLUSION: Thyroid incidentalomas found on 18F-FDG PET/CT have a high risk of malignancy, with a positive predictive value of 41.7%. FDG-avid thyroid incidentalomas with higher SUVmax tended to be malignant.

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