C-cell hyperplasia

C-Cell Hyperplasia

C-cell hyperplasia is a condition in which there is an increase in the number of C-cells in the thyroid (a gland at the base of the neck). The detection of this condition is typically made while examining a thyroid biopsy. C-cell hyperplasia is usually asymptomatic and is seen in patients with or without thyroid diseases. It is important to identify this condition, as it could lead to an increased risk of thyroid cancer.


C-cell hyperplasia is often identified during a routine thyroid biopsy, such as when a patient is being evaluated for suspected thyroid cancer or Graves’ disease. In these cases, sectioned tissue from the biopsy will be stained for calcitonin (a hormone produced by C-cells). If the number of C-cells in the tissue is higher than what would normally be expected for a healthy thyroid gland, a diagnosis of C-cell hyperplasia is made.


C-cell hyperplasia is usually asymptomatic and does not usually need to be treated. However, if the patient is at a higher risk for thyroid cancer, the doctor may suggest monitoring the patient more frequently or removing the thyroid gland altogether. In rare cases, where there is a history of medullary thyroid cancer in the patient's family, prophylactic surgery may be recommended.

Risk Factors

There are some risk factors associated with C-cell hyperplasia that increase the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer, including:

  • Age: People over 45 are at higher risk.
  • Family history of medullary thyroid cancer.
  • Having MEN-2A or MEN-2B syndrome.
  • Having paniculitis of the thyroid.
  • Having prior radiation therapy to the head and neck.
  • Having multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome.


Although most cases of C-cell hyperplasia are not associated with any symptoms or complications, those with high risk factors may develop thyroid cancer. Other potential complications may include abnormal shifts in hormones as a result of the increased production of C-cells.