Pathology Handbook




Clinical Indications

Calcitonin is produced by the parafollicular or C-cells of the thyroid gland. Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) is a tumour of the calcitonin-producing C-cells which occurs in a sporadic and in an inherited form. As some MTCs are hereditary it is important to screen all family members for excess calcitonin when a case is diagnosed.
Calcitonin is also used in confirmed MTC to monitor treatment, assess prognosis and detect recurrence

Request Form

Request on ICE


Analysed by referral laboratory if specific criteria met.

Specific Criteria

Screening, diagnosis or monitoring of MTC. In cases of familial origin, calcitonin can be used as a screening test.

Patient Preparation

Fasting samples are no longer required

Turnaround Time

2 weeks




2 ml


Vacutainer gold top


Samples MUST be transported to laboratory immediately

Lab Handling

Sent to referral laboratory (Charing Cross Hospital)

Causes for Rejection

Unlabelled or incorrectly labelled sample; not meeting specific criteria for analysis; delay in sample reaching laboratory.

Visible haemolysis invalidates the results.

Reference Range

Male:     0 - 11.5 ng/L
Female: 0 - 4.6 ng/L

See laboratory report for further information


In early disease basal levels of calcitonin may be normal. Increased diagnostic sensitivity may be obtained using pentagastrin stimulation.
Calcitonin may be raised in other malignancies (breast, lung, pancreas), phaeochromocytoma, renal failure, hyperparathyroidism and Paget's disease.