Table 3. Percentage of Patients with Clinical Features of MEN2 by Subtype continued...
Primary Hyperparathyroidism (PHPT)
PHPT is the third most common endocrine disorder in the general population. The incidence increases with age with the vast majority of cases occurring after the sixth decade of life. Approximately 80% of cases are the results of a single adenoma. PHPT can also be seen as a component tumor in several different hereditary syndromes, including the following:
- Hyperparathyroidism-Jaw Tumor syndrome.
- Familial Isolated Hyperparathyroidism.
Hereditary PHPT is typically multiglandular, presents earlier in life, and can have histologic evidence of both adenoma and glandular hyperplasia.
Clinical Diagnosis of MEN2 Subtypes
The diagnosis of the three MEN2 clinical subtypes relies on a combination of clinical findings, family history, and molecular genetic testing of the RET gene (chromosomal region 10q11.2).
MEN2A is diagnosed clinically by the occurrence of two or more specific endocrine tumors (MTC, pheochromocytoma, or parathyroid adenoma and/or hyperplasia) in a single individual or in close relatives.
The MEN2A subtype makes up about 60% to 90% of MEN2 cases. The MEN2A subtype was initially called Sipple syndrome. Since genetic testing for RET mutations has become available, it has become apparent that about 95% of individuals with MEN2A will develop MTC; about 50% will develop pheochromocytoma; and about 15% to 30% will develop hyperparathyroidism.[13,62,63,64]
MTC is generally the first manifestation of MEN2A. In asymptomatic at-risk individuals, stimulation testing may reveal elevated plasma calcitonin levels and the presence of CCH or MTC.[13,63] In families with MEN2A, the biochemical manifestations of MTC generally appear between the ages of 5 and 25 years (mean 15 years). If presymptomatic screening is not performed, MTC typically presents as a neck mass or neck pain at about age 5 to 20 years. More than 50% of such patients have cervical lymph node metastases. Diarrhea, the most frequent systemic symptom, occurs in patients with a plasma calcitonin level of greater than 10 ng/mL and implies a poor prognosis. Up to 30% of patients with MTC present with diarrhea and advanced disease.
MEN2-associated pheochromocytomas are more often bilateral, multifocal, and associated with extratumoral medullary hyperplasia.[66,67,68] They also have an earlier age of onset and are less likely to be malignant than their sporadic counterparts.[66,69] MEN2-associated pheochromocytomas usually present after MTC, typically with intractable hypertension.
Unlike the PHPT seen in MEN1, hyperparathyroidism in individuals with MEN2 is typically asymptomatic or associated with only mild elevations in calcium.[65,70] A series of 56 patients with MEN2-related hyperparathyroidism has been reported by the French Calcitonin Tumors Study Group. The median age at diagnosis was 38 years, documenting that this disorder is rarely the first manifestation of MEN2. This is in sharp contrast to MEN1, in which the vast majority of patients (87%–99%) initially present with primary hyperparathyroidism.[71,72,73] Parathyroid abnormalities were found concomitantly with surgery for medullary thyroid carcinoma in 43 patients (77%). Two-thirds of the patients were asymptomatic. Among the 53 parathyroid glands removed surgically, there were 24 single adenomas, four double adenomas, and 25 hyperplastic glands.