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September 6, 2007

Gene Mutation Predicts Metastasis and Reoccurrence of Thyroid Cancer

  • A specific gene mutation could predict the aggressivenss of conventional papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), according to investigators at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). They believe that this variation, BRAF V600E, is also associated with higher risk of recurrence and persistence of the disease.

    BRAF V600E is a genetic alteration in the BRAF oncogene. Past studies have shown that the mutation frequently occurs in PTC, which is the most common type of thyroid cancer.

    The UCSF team examined tumor samples from 314 patients with thyroid cancer (245 with conventional PTC, 73 with follicular thyroid cancer, and 29 with the follicular variant of PTC).

    They found the mutation in 51% of patients with conventional PTC, in 1% of patients with follicular thyroid cancer, and in 24.1% of patients with follicular variant PTC.

    In conventional PTC and follicular variant PTC, the mutation was significantly associated with older age, larger tumor size, and recurrent and persistent disease, the scientists reports. These patients also showed a trend toward a higher rate of cancer formation in the lymph node due to metastasis and higher stage cancer, they add.

    The new research is reported in the September issue of the Annals of Surgery.