PURPOSE: Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) derives from the parafollicular C-cells of the thyroid gland. Somatostatin receptors (SSTRs) are expressed in various neuroendocrine tumours including MTC. The aim of this study was to evaluate SSTR2A as a prognostic factor for MTC, to study distribution of SSTR2A expression within tumours and to compare expression of SSTR2A between primary tumours and corresponding lymph node metastases.
METHODS: Patients who underwent surgery between 1988 and 2014 for MTC from five tertiary referral centres in The Netherlands were included. In total, primary tumours of 114 patients and lymph node metastases of 34 patients were analysed for expression of SSTR2A using a tissue microarray, and correlated with clinicopathological variables and survival.
RESULTS: The mean age of patients was 45.5 years (SD 16.2), 55 patients were male (49.5%). Primary tumours of 58 patients (50.9%) showed SSTR2A expression. In multivariate Cox-regression analysis, SSTR2A positivity correlated independently with better overall survival (OS) (HR 0.3; 95% CI 0.1-1.0). In stage IV MTC patients, 10-year survival rates for SSTR2A-negative and positive patients were 43% and 96%, respectively. In 53.9% of patients with lymph node metastases, expression in primary tumour and lymph node metastases differed.
CONCLUSION: SSTR2A expression is correlated with longer OS in MTC, especially for stage IV patients, suggesting that SSTR2A expression might be a useful prognostic factor in MTC. The SSTR2A status of the primary MTC does not predict expression in lymph node metastases.