by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
September 21, 2022
Diffuse papillary hyperplasia of the thyroid gland means an increase in both the size and the number of cells in the thyroid gland. The term diffuse means that the changes are seen throughout the entire thyroid gland while the term papillary is used to describe small finger-like projections of tissue that are commonly seen in this condition.
No. Diffuse papillary hyperplasia of the thyroid gland is a non-cancerous condition.
Diffuse papillary hyperplasia of the thyroid gland is caused by an autoimmune condition called Grave’s disease. In Grave’s disease, the immune system produces autoantibodies (antibodies directed at tissue normally found in the body) that activate a protein called thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR). TSHR is found on specialized follicular cells in the thyroid gland and when activated, stimulates the cells to produce thyroid hormone. The constant stimulation causes the thyroid gland to enlarge and produce abnormally high levels of thyroid hormone.
Patients with diffuse papillary hyperplasia of the thyroid gland typically experience a condition called hyperthyroidism. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms of excess thyroid hormone production include nervousness, anxiety, shaking, fatigue, increased sweating, palpitations, and weight loss.
The diagnosis of diffuse papillary hyperplasia is typically made after the entire thyroid gland has been surgically removed and sent to a pathologist for examination under the microscope.
The term ‘representative sections’ means that only some parts of the thyroid gland were placed on glass slides and examined under the microscope. Pathologists typically only examine representative sections when a patient has a history of Grave’s disease because the gland is very large and examining the entire gland rarely results in additional information that would change the diagnosis.