Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 13
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Baloch, Zubair W. and LiVolsi, Virginia A. 2016. Thyroid Cancer.

    Chavan, Rahulkumar N. Chikkala, Bhargav Biswas, Cinjini Biswas, Somak and Sarkar, Diptendra Kumar 2015. Primary Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Thyroid: A Rare Entity. Case Reports in Pathology, Vol. 2015, p. 1.

    Schmid, K.W. 2015. Lymphknoten- und Organmetastasen des Schilddrüsenkarzinoms. Der Pathologe, Vol. 36, Issue. S2, p. 171.

    Bolfi, Fernanda Domingues, Maria A. C. Sobrinho-Simões, Manuel Soares, Paula Celestino, Ricardo Castilho, Emanuel C. Carelli, Guareide Paes, Norberto S. and Mazeto, Glaucia M. F. S. 2014. Primary Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Thyroid Diagnosed as Anaplastic Carcinoma: Failure in Fine-Needle Aspiration Cytology?. Case Reports in Pathology, Vol. 2014, p. 1.

    Cho, Jae Keun Woo, Seung-Hoon Park, Junoh Kim, Min-Ji and Jeong, Han-Sin 2014. Primary squamous cell carcinomas in the thyroid gland: an individual participant data meta-analysis. Cancer Medicine, Vol. 3, Issue. 5, p. 1396.

    Sapalidis, K. Anastasiadis, I. Panteli, N. Strati, T.-M. Liavas, L. Poulios, C. and Kanellos, I. 2014. Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland. Journal of Surgical Case Reports, Vol. 2014, Issue. 12, p. rju133.

    Toner, Mary Banville, Niamh and Timon, Conrad I 2014. Laryngotracheal presentation of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma with squamous differentiation: seven cases demonstrating an under-recognized diagnostic pitfall. Histopathology, Vol. 65, Issue. 4, p. 501.

    Fallah, Mahdi Pukkala, Eero Tryggvadottir, Laufey Olsen, Jörgen H Tretli, Steinar Sundquist, Kristina and Hemminki, Kari 2013. Risk of thyroid cancer in first-degree relatives of patients with non-medullary thyroid cancer by histology type and age at diagnosis: a joint study from five Nordic countries. Journal of Medical Genetics, Vol. 50, Issue. 6, p. 373.

    Kleinhans, H. Schmid, K. W. and Verse, T. 2013. Primäres Plattenepithelkarzinom der Schilddrüse. HNO, Vol. 61, Issue. 7, p. 661.

    Ito, Yasuhiro Higashiyama, Takuya Hirokawa, Mitsuyoshi Fukushima, Mitsuhiro Kihara, Minoru Takamura, Yuuki Kobayashi, Kaoru Miya, Akihiro and Miyauchi, Akira 2012. Clinical trial of weekly paclitaxel chemotherapy for papillary thyroid carcinoma with squamous cell carcinoma component. Endocrine Journal, Vol. 59, Issue. 9, p. 839.

    Ito, Yasuhiro Hirokawa, Mitsuyoshi Higashiyama, Takuya Kihara, Minoru Tomoda, Chisato Takamura, Yuuki Kobayashi, Kaoru Miya, Akihiro and Miyauchi, Akira 2012. Biological Behavior of Papillary Carcinoma of the Thyroid Including Squamous Cell Carcinoma Components and Prognosis of Patients Who Underwent Locally Curative Surgery. Journal of Thyroid Research, Vol. 2012, p. 1.

    Pan, Yi Zhao, Xiulan Yang, Jilong Deng, Jingyu Zhan, Zhongli Luo, Ye Li, Qi Guo, Yan Zhai, Qiongli and Sun, Baocun 2012. Absence of gene mutations in KIT-positive carcinoma showing thymus-like elements of the thyroid. Human Pathology, Vol. 43, Issue. 3, p. 350.

    Shrestha, Merica Sridhara, Shankar K. Leo, Leonard J. Coppit, George L. Ehrhardt, Nicole M. and Andersen, Peter 2012. Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland: A case report and review. Head & Neck, p. n/a.


Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland: primary or secondary disease?

  • M I Syed (a1), M Stewart (a2), S Syed (a2), S Dahill (a3), C Adams (a4), D R McLellan (a5) and L J Clark (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 18 October 2010

To review the aetiopathogenesis, clinical characteristics, immunohistochemical profile, prognosis and treatment options for primary thyroid squamous cell carcinoma, and to compare it with squamous cell carcinoma metastatic to the thyroid, thus providing the reader with a framework for differentiating primary and secondary disease.


Review of English language literature from the past 25 years.

Search strategy:

A search of the Medline, Embase and Cochrane databases (April 1984 to April 2009) was undertaken to enable a comprehensive review.


After applying strict criteria for the diagnosis of primary thyroid squamous cell carcinoma, 28 articles were identified reporting 84 cases. When reviewing secondary thyroid squamous cell carcinoma, we only analysed cases of squamous cell carcinoma metastatic to the thyroid gland, and found 28 articles reporting 78 cases.


It is possible to differentiate between primary and secondary thyroid squamous cell carcinoma, on the basis of combined evidence from clinical examination and endoscopic, pathological and radiological evaluation. Such differentiation is important, as the prognosis for primary squamous cell carcinoma is uniformly poor irrespective of treatment, and the most suitable option may be supportive therapy. Treatment for secondary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid varies with the site and extent of spread of the primary tumour.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Mr Mohammed Iqbal Syed, Specialist Registrar in Otolaryngology, Southern General Hospital, Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust, Glasgow G51 4TF, Scotland, UK Fax: +44 (0)141 3146616 E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

2R Katoh , A Sakamoto , N Kasai , K Yagawa . Squamous differentiation in thyroid carcinoma. With special reference to histogenesis of squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid. Acta Pathol Jpn 1989;39:306–12

4GS Korovin , DB Kuriloff , HT Cho , SM Sobol . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid: a diagnostic dilemma. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 1989;98:5965

5S Cichoń , R Anielski , A Konturek , M Barczyński , W Cichoń . Metastases to the thyroid gland: seventeen cases operated on in a single clinical center. Langenbecks Arch Surg 2006;391:581–7

6K Segal , J Sidi , A Abraham , M Konichezky , M Ben-Bassat . Pure squamous cell carcinoma and mixed adenosquamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland. Head Neck Surg 1984;6:1035–42

8CG Kleer , TJ Giordano , MJ Merino . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid: an aggressive tumour associated with tall cell variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma. Mod Pathol 2000;13:742–6

9JL Long , AM Strocker , MB Wang , KE Blackwell . EGFR expression in primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid. Laryngoscope 2009;119:8990

10O Makay , T Kaya , Y Ertan , G Icoz , M Akyildiz , M Yilmaz Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid: report of three cases. Endocr J 2008;55:359–64

11K Müssig , J Dahm , A Koitschev , M Horger , M Müller , R Bares Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid. Intern Med J 2008;38:6970

13I Ab Hadi , RD Bliss , TW Lennard , AR Welch . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland: a case report and role of radiotherapy. Surgeon 2007;5:249–51

15F Booya , TJ Sebo , JL Kasperbauer , V Fatourechi . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid: report of ten cases. Thyroid 2006;16:8993

16S Sanchez-Sosa , NP Rios-Luna , R Tamayo Bdel , K Simpson , J Albores-Saavedra . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid arising in Hashimoto's thyroiditis in an adolescent. Pediatr Dev Pathol 2006;9:496500

17PW Zimmer , D Wilson , N Bell . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland. Mil Med 2003;168:124–5

18XH Zhou . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid. Eur J Surg Oncol 2002;28:42–5

19M Sahoo , CS Bal , D Bhatnagar . Primary squamous-cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland: new evidence in support of follicular epithelial cell origin. Diagn Cytopathol 2002;27:227–31

20KY Lam , CY Lo , MC Liu . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland: an entity with aggressive clinical behaviour and distinctive cytokeratin expression profiles. Histopathology 2001;39:279–86

22JM Jones , WG McCluggage , CF Russell . Primary squamous carcinoma of the thyroid. Ulster Med J 2000;69:5860

23AM Cook , L Vini , C Harmer . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid: outcome of treatment in 16 patients. Eur J Surg Oncol 1999;25:606–9

24PV Kumar , SA Malekhusseini , AR Talei . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid diagnosed by fine needle aspiration cytology. A report of two cases. Acta Cytol 1999;43:659–62

26RK Chaudhary , EL Barnes , EN Myers . Squamous cell carcinoma arising in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Head Neck 1994;16:582–5

28A Tsuchiya , S Suzuki , T Nomizu , Y Yamaki , R Abe , S Katayama . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid – a report of three cases. Jpn J Surg 1990;20:341–5

29T Harada , M Katagiri , C Tsukayama , Y Higashi , K Shimaoka . Squamous cell carcinoma with cyst of the thyroid. J Surg Oncol 1989;42:136–43

30WJ Simpson , J Carruthers . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland. Am J Surg 1988;156:44–6

31AK Sarda , S Bal , MK Arunabh, Singh , MM Kapur . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid. J Surg Oncol 1988;39:175–8

32J Misonou , M Aizawa , M Kanda , Y Uekita , T Motohara . Pure squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland – report of an autopsy case and review of the literature. Jpn J Surg 1988;18:469–74

35VK Kapoor , D Sharma , AK Mukhopadhyay , TK Chattopadhyay . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland – a case report. Jpn J Surg 1985;15:60–2

36P Jankowska , EM Teoh , C Fisher , P Rhys Evans , CM Nutting , KJ Harrington . Isolated intrathyroid metastasis from undifferentiated and squamous carcinoma of the head and neck: the case for surgery and re-irradiation. Br J Radiol 2008;81:154–61

38D Ciobanu , C Vulpoi , B Găluşcă , N Florea , SE Giuşcă , ID Căruntu . The value of the immunohistochemical exam in the diagnosis of the secondary malignant tumors to the thyroid gland. Rom J Morphol Embryol 2007;48:113–19

39I Iesalnieks , A Trupka , M Raab , G Glockzin , M Woenckhaus , HJ Schlitt Renal cell carcinoma metastases to the thyroid gland – 8 cases reported. Thyroid 2007;17:4952

44SF Preuss , M Stenzel , T Hansen . Metastatic disease of bronchial carcinoma in a thyroid nodule: a case report. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2005;262:804–6

45E Mirallié , J Rigaud , M Mathonnet , H Gibelin , N Regenet , A Hamy Management and prognosis of metastases to the thyroid gland. J Am Coll Surg 2005;200:203–7

46TY Kim , WB Kim , G Gong , SJ Hong , YK Shong . Metastasis to the thyroid diagnosed by fine-needle aspiration biopsy. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 2005;62:236–41

47D Dequanter , P Lothaire , D Larsimont , N de Saint-Aubain de Somerhausen , G Andry . Intrathyroid metastasis: 11 cases. Ann Endocrinol (Paris) 2004;65:205–8

48K Wood , L Vini , C Harmer . Metastases to the thyroid gland: the Royal Marsden experience. Eur J Surg Oncol 2004;30:583–8

49M De Ridder , AB Sermeus , D Urbain , GA Storme . Metastases to the thyroid gland – a report of six cases. Eur J Intern Med 2003;14:377–9

50FT Schwender , I Wollner , LP Kunju , RE Nakhleh , KM Chan . Squamous cell carcinoma of the buccal mucosa with metastases to the pericardial cavity, lung and thyroid. Oral Oncol 2002;38:114–16

51CS Heffess , BM Wenig , LD Thompson . Metastatic renal cell carcinoma to the thyroid gland: a clinicopathologic study of 36 cases. Cancer 2002;95:1869–78

52H Chen , TL Nicol , R Udelsman . Clinically significant, isolated metastatic disease to the thyroid gland. World J Surg 1999;23:177–80

54JD Lin , HF Weng , YS Ho . Clinical and pathological characteristics of secondary thyroid cancer. Thyroid 1998;8:149–53

55MK Nakhjavani , H Gharib , JR Goellner , JA van Heerden . Metastasis to the thyroid gland. A report of 43 cases. Cancer 1997;79:574–8

56IB Rosen , PG Walfish , J Bain , YC Bedard . Secondary malignancy of the thyroid gland and its management. Ann Surg Oncol 1995;2:252–6

57PM Michelow , G Leiman . Metastases to the thyroid gland: diagnosis by aspiration cytology. Diagn Cytopathol 1995;13:209–13

58SA Smith , H Gharib , JR Goellner . Fine-needle aspiration. Usefulness for diagnosis and management of metastatic carcinoma to the thyroid. Arch Intern Med 1987;147:311–12

60DP McCabe , WB Farrar , TM Petkov , W Finkelmeier , P O'Dwyer , A James . Clinical and pathologic correlations in disease metastatic to the thyroid gland. Am J Surg 1985;150:519–23

61HK Ivy . Cancer metastatic to the thyroid: a diagnostic problem. Mayo Clin Proc 1984;59:856–9

62D Vane , DR King , ET Boles Jr. Secondary thyroid neoplasms in pediatric cancer patients: increased risk with improved survival. J Pediatr Surg 1984,19:855–60

63HM Goldberg , P Harvey . Squamous-cell cysts of the thyroid with special reference to the aetiology of squamous epithelium in the human thyroid. Br J Surg 1956;43:565–9

64T Kobayashi , S Okamoto , H Maruyama , J Okamura , S Takai , T Mori . Squamous metaplasia with Hashimoto's thyroiditis presenting as a thyroid nodule. J Surg Oncol 1989;40:139–42

65M Nakhjavani , H Gharib , JR Goellner , JA Heerden . Direct extension of malignant lesions to the thyroid gland from adjacent organs: report of 17 cases. Endocr Pract 1999;5:6971

66M Gulisano , A Pirino , A Montella . Blood and/or lymphatic connection of laryngo-pharynx and thyroid: an anatomic and clinical problem (in Italian). Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper 1993;69:655–9

67AL Weber , G Randolph , FG Aksoy . The thyroid and parathyroid glands. CT and MR imaging and correlation with pathology and clinical findings. Radiol Clin North Am 2000;38:1105–29

70KY Lam , MC Lui , CY Lo . Cytokeratin expression profiles in thyroid carcinomas. Eur J Surg Oncol 2001;27:631–5

71NG Ordóñez . Value of thyroid transcription factor-1 immunostaining in distinguishing small cell lung carcinomas from other small cell carcinomas. Am J Surg Pathol 2000;24:1217–23

72SN Agoff , LW Lamps , AT Philip , MB Amin , RA Schmidt , LD True Thyroid transcription factor-1 is expressed in extrapulmonary small cell carcinomas but not in other extrapulmonary neuroendocrine tumours. Mod Pathol 2000;13:238–42

73G Pelosi , F Fraggetta , F Pasini , P Maisonneuve , A Sonzogni , A Iannucci Immunoreactivity for thyroid transcription factor-1 in stage I non-small cell carcinomas of the lung. Am J Surg Pathol 2001;25:363–72

76TY Huang , D Assor . Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland: a report of four cases. Am J Clin Pathol 1971;55:93–8

77EB Kampsen , N Jager , MH Max . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid: a report of two cases. J Surg Oncol 1977;9:567–78

80T Harada , K Shimaoka , K Yakumaru , K Ito . Squamous cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland – transition from adenocarcinoma. J Surg Oncol 1982;19:3643

81C Harmer . Thyroid Cancer. In: A Horwich , ed. Oncology. A Multidisciplinary Textbook. London: Chapman and Hall, 1995;565–84

82M Ericsson , A Biörklund , E Cederquist , S Ingemansson , M Akerman . Surgical treatment of metastatic disease in the thyroid gland. J Surg Oncol 1981;17:1523

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *