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Martin B Niederle, Monika Hackl, Klaus Kaserer, and Bruno Niederle

As incidence data on gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP-NETs) have so far only been retrospectively obtained and based on inhomogeneous material, we conducted a prospective study in Austria collecting all newly diagnosed GEP-NETs during 1 year. Using the current WHO classification, the tumor, nodes, metastases (TNM) staging and Ki67 grading and the standard diagnostic procedure proposed by the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (ENETS), GEP-NETs from 285 patients (male: 148; female: 137) were recorded. The annual incidence rates were 2.51 per 100 000 inhabitants for men, 2.36 per 100 000 for women. The stomach (23%) was the main site, followed by appendix (21%), small intestine (15%) and rectum (14%). Patients with appendiceal tumours were significantly younger than patients with tumours in any other site. About 46.0% were classified as benign, 15.4% as uncertain, 31.9% as well differentiated malignant and 6.7% as poorly differentiated malignant. Patients with benign or uncertain tumours were significantly younger than patients with malignant tumours. Among the malignant tumours of the digestive tract, 1.49% arose from neuroendocrine cells. For malignant gastrointestinal NETs, the incidence was 0.80 per 100 000: 40.9% were ENETS stage I, 23.8% stage II, 11.6% stage III and 23.8% stage IV. The majority (59.7%) were grade 1, 31.2% grade 2 and 9.1% grade 3. NETs of the digestive tract are more common than previously reported; the majority show benign behaviour, are located in the stomach and are well differentiated. G3 tumours are very rare.

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B Zierhut, K Mechtler, W Gartner, T Daneva, W Base, M Weissel, B Niederle, and L Wagner

In order to identify neuroendocrine tumour-specific protein expression, we generated monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with a tumour-related reaction pattern using a human insulinoma as immunogen. One of the generated mAbs (mAb 1D4) exhibited striking immunoreactivity against various neuroendocrine tumours without staining pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Furthermore, mAb 1D4 immunostained a characteristic subtype of hypothalamic neurones. Using two-dimensional (2-D) gel electrophoresis, mAb 1D4 immunoblotting and mass spectrometry, heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) isoforms were identified as the mAb 1D4-specific antigen. In hypothalamic tissue, the presence of two different Hsp70 isoforms (Hsp70-8 and Hsp70-1) was revealed by 2-D gel immunoblots and consecutive mass spectrometric peptide analysis. In contrast, insulinoma and other neuroendocrine tumours displayed solely Hsp70-8 expression. Moreover, the tumour-specific presence of an additional mAb 1D4 immunoreactive protein of 40 kDa was observed in eight out of eight tested neuroendocrine tumours. For this variant, exclusively, peptides derived from the C terminus excluding the 299 amino-terminal residues were detected. In cultured tumour-derived fibroblasts, expression of the truncated Hsp70-8 subtype was not present. In conclusion, we have demonstrated a neuroendocrine tumour-specific expression pattern of Hsp70 isoforms and identified an as yet unknown N-terminally truncated Hsp70-8 variant.

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C Passler, C Scheuba, G Prager, K Kaczirek, K Kaserer, G Zettinig, and B Niederle

Papillary (PTC) and follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) are known as differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC). Nevertheless, according to the UICC/AJCC (TNM) classification PTC and FTC are frequently analyzed as one cancer. The aim of this study is to show differences in outcome and specific prognostic factors in an iodine-replete endemic goiter region. Six hundred and three patients with DTC treated within a 35-year-period were retrospectively analyzed with respect to carcinoma-specific survival. Prognostic factors were tested for their significance using univariate and multivariate analysis. The histological type (PTC versus FTC) was found to be a highly significant factor - carcinoma-specific survival both in univariate (P<0.001) and multivariate analyses (P=0.003) was significantly different. Univariate analysis revealed patients' age, extra-thyroid tumor spread, lymph node and distant metastases, increasing tumor size, and the tall cell variant to be significant prognostic factors for PTC patients. Age > or =45 years, positive lymph nodes and increasing tumor size were confirmed as independent prognostic factors. Univariate analysis of FTC patients revealed age at presentation, gender, extrathyroidal tumor spread, lymph node and distant metastases, increasing tumor size, multifocality, widely invasive tumor growth and oxyphilic variant to be factors bearing prognostic significance. The presence of distant metastases and increasing tumor size could be identified as independent prognostic factors for FTC patients. This study shows distinctive differences in prognostic factors of PTC and FTC: independent factors predicting poor prognosis are age > or =45 years, positive lymph nodes and increasing tumor size for PTC, and distant metastases and increasing tumor size for FTC. PTC and FTC patients should be analyzed and reported separately.

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C Scheuba, K Kaserer, A Moritz, R Drosten, H Vierhapper, C Bieglmayer, O A Haas, and B Niederle

‘Calcitonin screening’ is not accepted as the standard of care in daily practice. The clinical and surgical consequences of ‘calcitonin screening’ in a series of patients with mildly elevated basal calcitonin and pentagastrin stimulated calcitonin levels are presented. 260 patients with elevated basal (>10 pg/ml) and stimulated calcitonin levels (>100 pg/ml) were enrolled in this prospective study. None of the patients was member of a known medullary thyroid carcinoma family. Thyroidectomy and bilateral central and lateral neck dissections were performed. Testing for the presence of germ-line mutations was performed in all patients. Histological and immunohistochemical findings were compared with basal and stimulated calcitonin levels. All patients were subsequently followed biochemically. C-cell hyperplasia (CCH) was found in 126 (49%) and medullary thyroid cancer was found in 134 (51%) patients. RET proto-oncogen mutations were documented in 22 (8%) patients (medullary thyroid cancer:18, CCH:4). In 56 (46%) of 122 patients, sporadic CCH was classified neoplastic (‘carcinoma in situ’). Of 97 (72%; 10 with hereditary medullary thyroid cancer) had pT1 (International Union against Cancer recommendations 2002) and 33 (25%) had pT2 or pT3 and 4 (3%) pT4 tumors. Of 39 (29.1%) had lymph node metastases. 106 (79.1%; 15 (38.5%) with lymph node metastases) patients were cured. Evaluation of basal and stimulated calcitonin levels enables the prediction of medullary thyroid cancer. All patients with basal calcitonin >64 pg/ml and stimulated calcitonin >560 pg/ml have medullary thyroid cancer. Medullary thyroid cancer was documented in 20% of patients with basal calcitonin >10 pg/ml but <64 pg/ml and stimulated calcitonin >100 pg/ml but <560 pg/ml.