What is papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC)?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020
  • Author: Ponnandai S Somasundar, MD, MPH, FACS; Chief Editor: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD  more...
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Answer

Papillary carcinoma (PTC) is the most common form of well-differentiated thyroid cancer, and the most common form of thyroid cancer to result from exposure to radiation. Papillary carcinoma appears as an irregular solid or cystic mass or nodule in a normal thyroid parenchyma.

Despite its well-differentiated characteristics, papillary carcinoma may be overtly or minimally invasive. In fact, these tumors may spread easily to other organs. Papillary tumors have a propensity to invade lymphatics but are less likely to invade blood vessels.

PTC has several histologic variants, which show different patterns of behavior. For example, tall cell PTC (TPPTC) is an uncommon but relatively aggressive variant that is more likely to demonstrate invasion, metastasis, and recurrence. [1] In contrast, the encapsulated follicular variant of PTC (eFVPTC) without capsular or vascular invasion poses so little risk that the American Thyroid Association has recommended that it no longer be considered a carcinoma, and instead be reclassified as noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features (NIFTP). [2]


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