Malignant tumors arising from thyroid C cells (medullary thyroid carcinoma: MTC) usually produce elevated levels of calcitonin. MTC is an uncommon malignant thyroid tumor, comprising less than 5% of all thyroid malignancies. Serum calcitonin concentrations are high in infants, decline rapidly, and are relatively stable from childhood through adult life. In general, calcitonin serum concentrations are higher in men than in women due to the larger C-cell mass in men. Serum calcitonin concentrations may be increased in patients with chronic renal failure, and other conditions such as hyperparathyroidism, leukemic and myeloproliferative disorders, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, autoimmune thyroiditis, small cell and large cell lung cancers, breast and prostate cancer, mastocytosis, and various neuroendocrine tumors, in particular, islet cell tumors.
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