Thyroid nodules are commonly found on ultrasound of the neck and the evaluation of a thyroid nodule may include thyroid biopsy. Thyroid nodule biopsies are used to identify if a nodule is cancerous or determine the risk that a thyroid nodule may be cancerous. Sometimes, thyroid biopsy specimens are indeterminate, meaning that thyroid cancer cannot be definitively ruled in or out. In such cases, testing of molecular markers related to thyroid cancer may help determine the risk of cancer. One such molecular marker test is the Afirma gene expression classifier (GEC) test. The results of the GEC are either read as suspicious for cancer or benign.
Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer. A group of expert pathologists have recently identified a subgroup of papillary thyroid cancer called noninvasive follicular variant papillary thyroid cancer that has a very low risk of relapsing after surgical removal. Because of this rather benign course, some pathologists have even questioned whether this subgroup is a cancer after all.
The aim of this study was to find out how often indeterminate thyroid biopsy specimens which were read as “suspicious” by the GEC test were ultimately diagnosed as noninvasive follicular variant papillary thyroid cancer after surgery.
THE FULL ARTICLE TITLE:
Wong KS et al. Noninvasive follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma and the Afirma gene-expression classifier. Thyroid 2016;26:911-5.
SUMMARY OF THE STUDY
In this study from Boston, 63 thyroid surgical specimens were reviewed from patients whose thyroid biopsy samples were read as indeterminate and in whom the GEC test was reported as suspicious.