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University of Toronto – Study Points to Improved Detection of Thyroid Cancer

University of Toronto – Study Points to Improved Detection of Thyroid Cancer
University of Toronto – Study Points to Improved Detection of Thyroid Cancer

Researchers from Sinai Health and the University of Toronto have gained new insights into how to treat thyroid cancer more effectively.

The study, which examined thyroid tumor tissues and thyroid nodule biopsies from 620 patients at Mount Sinai Hospital from 2016 to 2022, examined whether differences in patients’ RAS genomic variants were reflected in the status of their tumors. The presence of the BRAF V600E variant and TERT promoter variants in the patient samples was also examined.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that differences in RAS in combination with BRAF V600E and TERT promoter variants could be used to achieve more accurate cancer diagnoses in patients with indeterminate thyroid nodules.

“The findings help advance understanding of patient differences in genomic variation among patients carrying the same genetic mutation, allowing for individualized treatment based on the extent of the mutation in the patient,” Guodong (David) Furesearcher at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and the Alex and Simona Shnaider Research Laboratory in Molecular Oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Fu adds that researchers developed novel molecular assays for the study using digital polymerase chain reaction, a technique that allows them to sensitively quantify the genetic mutation level of patient material.

The results were recently published in JAMA Network. Other researchers involved in the study were: Ronald Chazenalso from the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and the Alex and Simona Shnaider Research Laboratory in Molecular Oncology, and Christina MacMillana pathologist at Sinai Health and an assistant professor in the department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, and Ian Witterickchief surgeon at Sinai Health and professor in the department of otolaryngology (head and neck surgery) at Temerty Medicine.

The article notes that there has been a dramatic increase in papillary thyroid carcinoma since the 1980s and that in 30 percent of cases in which a fine-needle aspiration biopsy of a suspected nodule is performed, there is an indeterminate diagnosis that may lead to diagnostic surgery.

Fu says research that helps accurately detect thyroid cancer is important for many reasons, including that some patients seeking treatment for thyroid tumors find out after diagnostic surgery that their tumors are benign. The findings could help medical professionals distinguish low-risk from high-risk tumors, he says, and avoid unnecessary surgical intervention.

“(This finding) improves the preoperative diagnostic accuracy for patients, to avoid unnecessary surgeries for benign thyroid nodules,” Fu said.

Witterick, who is also an ear, throat and throat specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital, says the research is important because identifying differences in genomic variants between patients can improve the accuracy of cancer detection, particularly in diagnosing malignancies before surgery and