Multiple studies have reported the increased incidence of thyroid cancer in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). However, the underlying risk factors of concomitant thyroid cancer in patients with PHPT remain unknown. The primary aim of this study was to examine the records of patients with PHPT to identify characteristics that correlated with the presence of coexisting thyroid nodules, and which may have an implication for the prediction of thyroid cancer.
Medical records of consecutive patients with PHPT (n = 318) were reviewed from January 2010 to September 2020 in two tertiary medical centers in China. Patient clinicopathological and biological data were collected and analyzed.
Of a total of 318 patients with PHPT, 105 (33.0%) patients had thyroid nodules and 26 (8.2%) patients were concomitant with thyroid cancer. A total of 38 thyroid nodules taken from 26 patients were pathologically assessed to be well-differentiated papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), with 81% being papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC). In 79% (30/38) of these cancers, thyroid nodules were considered suspicious following preoperative ultrasound. Multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed that female gender was associated with increased risk of thyroid nodules (OR = 2.13, 95% CI: 1.13–3.99, P = 0.019), while lower log-transformed parathyroid hormone levels were an independent predictor of thyroid cancer in patients with PHPT (OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.26–0.93, P = 0.028).
In conclusion, we observed a relatively high prevalence of thyroid cancer in our cohort of Chinese patients with PHPT. Evaluation of thyroid nodules by preoperative ultrasound may be advisable in patients with PHPT, particularly for females and patients with modestly elevated serum parathyroid hormone levels.