BACKGROUND: The columnar and tall cell variants of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) are uncommon variants and have generally been regarded as more aggressive forms in comparison to the more common classic papillary and follicular subtypes. Cytologic diagnosis of these rare variants is elusive since the characteristic nuclear features of the usual papillary thyroid carcinoma are very often absent or inconspicuous. We present a case of the columnar cell variant of PTC in a young woman that demonstrates the diagnostic challenge. CASE: A 24-year-old woman presented with a solitary, 3-cm mass in the left aspect of the thyroid. The aspirate consisted of a moderately cellular sampling of sheets, papillary clusters and microfollicles of cells with oval nuclei and uniform, finely granular chromatin. These cells were arranged in a peudostratified manner around well-defined fibrovascular cores. There were no intranuclear inclusions or well-defined nuclear grooves in the cells of the aspirate. There was also absence of colloid despite the presence of well-formed follicles. The resected thyroid revealed a columnar cell variant of PTC. CONCLUSION: The cytologic features of columnar cell-type PTC are at variance with those of classic PTC and are elusive in fine needle aspiration cytology. It is the lack of classic cytologic features of PTC that is distinctly apparent, yet it is the monomorphism of cells in the aspirate, their papillary configuration and their pseudostratification in well-formed fibrovascular cores that are the keys to the diagnosis. Immunohistochemical staining to rule out other thyroid neoplasms can be performed to aid in the diagnosis.
- Aspiration biopsy
- Carcinoma, papillary
- Papillary thyroid carcinoma, columnar cell variant
- Thyroid cancer