Total thyroidectomy was performed in 455 patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma between 1978 and 1999. Serum calcitonin (CT) was determined preoperatively in all patients using polyclonal antibodies. Among the subjects, 25 patients showed elevated serum calcitonin levels preoperatively. Pathological diagnoses of 18 patients were confirmed as medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) postoperatively. Eight patients were diagnosed as papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) in the final pathological diagnosis without evidence of minimal foci of MTC or C cell hyperplasia, and they showed elevated CT levels preoperatively. Hypercalcitoninemia in 8 patients with PTC continued through out the 24 follow-up months with normal CEA levels. Extrathyroidal CT-producing diseases were all neglected, and precise pathological examination showed negative evidence of minute MTC or C cell hyperplasia in these 8 patients. Serum CT levels were simultaneously determined by a different CT assay kit using the same blood samples in 7 of 8 patients. Serum CT levels were all within normal values in another CT kit applying a different polyclonal antibody, although elevated CT values continued in the routine CT kit. The recognition of polymeric or fragmented CT by polyclonal antibody was thought to be the causative factor for the hypercalcitoninemia after total thyroidectomy in the patients with PTC. Knowledge of the false positive CT determination makes it important to employ different CT assay kits, especially the new generation of two-site immunoassays using two monoclonal antibodies against distinct epitopes of human CT, although the new generation kits are not clinically available in Japan.
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