Gene expression test identifies low-risk thyroid nodules

June 25, 2012

A new test can be used to identify low-risk thyroid nodules, reducing unnecessary surgeries for people with thyroid nodules that have indeterminate results after biopsy. The results of the multi-center trial, which includes researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, appear online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNA) accurately identify 62-85 percent of thyroid nodules as benign. For those deemed malignant or unclassifiable, surgery is currently required. However, about 20-35 percent of nodules have inconclusive results after FNA. This novel test classifies genes from the thyroid nodule tissue obtained through FNA.

"This test, currently available at Penn Medicine, can help us determine whether these nodules with indeterminate biopsy results are likely to be benign," said Susan Mandel, MD, MPH, professor of Medicine in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn."If so, patients may be able to avoid unnecessary surgeries and lifelong thyroid hormone replacement treatment."

In an accompanying NEJM editorial, J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for the Health System at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that the test is able to identify nodules at low risk of malignancy, making it possible to avoid approximately 25,000 thyroid surgeries per year. "In this era of focusing on high-quality outcomes at lower cost, this new gene expression classifier test is a welcome addition to the tools available for informed decision making about the management of thyroid nodules," writes Jameson.

The gene expression classifier was tested on 265 indeterminate , and was able to correctly identify 92 percent of cases as suspicious. The test demonstrated a 85 - 95 percent negative predictive value, effectively ruling out a malignancy.

The Penn research team included Dr. Mandel, Zubair Baloch, MD, PhD, and Virginia A. LiVolsi, MD, both professors of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The investigation was funded by a research grant provided by Veracyte, Inc., the maker of the gene expression classifier.

Related Stories

New approach to thyroid surgery eliminates neck scar

August 9, 2011

As the rate of thyroid cancer continues to climb, doctors are urging patients to be more cautious about thyroid nodules, a common disorder that is responsible for a small but growing number of thyroid cancer cases. Thyroid ...

Recommended for you

A recipe for long-lasting livers

April 22, 2015

People waiting for organ transplants may soon have higher hopes of getting the help that they need in time. Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology have developed a new technique that extends the time that ...

Surgeon to offer ideas on a way to do human head transplants

February 26, 2015

Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has made it known that he intends to announce at this summer's American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons meeting, that he believes he has put together ...

New tool helps guide brain cancer surgery

July 3, 2014

A tool to help brain surgeons test and more precisely remove cancerous tissue was successfully used during surgery, according to a Purdue University and Brigham and Women's Hospital study.

New imaging technique sharpens surgeons' vision

February 11, 2014

Which superhuman power would you choose for help on the job? For Dr. Julie Margenthaler, it's a technology that brings to mind X-ray vision, used for the first time Monday during an operation to remove a patient's lymph node.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.