• thyroid;
  • follicular neoplasm;
  • follicular variant of papillary carcinoma


The thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) diagnosis of “follicular neoplasm” does not differentiate between a benign and malignant tumor. Often cases diagnosed as “follicular or Hürthle-cell neoplasm” undergo surgical excision for further characterization. The aim of this study was to identify clinical features that may help in predicting malignancy in patients with an FNA diagnosis of follicular neoplasm. One hundred eighty-four cases in 167 patients were diagnosed as “follicular neoplasm” among 1,024 thyroid FNA evaluated with on-site interpretation from 1998–2000. The cases were evaluated for the following variables: histologic diagnosis, age, sex, and size of the nodule. One hundred thirty-nine patients were female, and 28 were male (age range, 23–80 yr). Among 122 patients (67%) undergoing surgical excision (lobectomy, 96; total thyroidectomy, 26), malignancy was identified in 37 cases (31%). Nonpapillary (follicular/Hürthle) carcinoma was diagnosed in 11 (9%), follicular variant of papillary carcinoma in 25, and medullary carcinoma in 1 case. The risk of malignancy was greater in males (47% vs. 29%, P < 0.0004) than females, in nodules measuring 3 cm or more (55% vs. 23%, P < 0.0001), than in nodules measuring less than 3 cm, and in patients 40 or more yr old (20% vs. 10%, P = 0.0001) than in patients younger than 40 years. The diagnosis “follicular neoplasm” is indeterminate, and the majority of cases (70% in the current study) are benign. However, clinical features, including gender, nodule size, and age, can be a part of the decision analysis in selecting patients for surgery. Diagn. Cytopathol. 2002;26:41–44. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.