A Mutated Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid carcinoma with mutant BRAF increases recurrence

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Some kinds of cancer are made more ominous than others by certain genetic mutations. Detecting these mutations early can help doctors know which patients to treat aggressively and early.

The gene BRAF has been correlated to aggressive growth in melanoma, colon, and lung cancer.

Understandably, the gene codes for proteins used in signaling cellular growth.

"Ask your oncologist about genetic sequencing."

Researchers from Italy examined the evidence from 168 patients who underwent total thyroidectomy for papillary thyroid carcinoma at the Ospedale San Paolo and Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda in Milan, Italy, between 1994 and 2010.

“In the present study, we examined the association between the percentage of BRAFV600E alleles and both the clinicopathological parameters and disease outcome in a large series of [papillary thyroid carcinomas], demonstrating that a high percentage of mutant BRAF alleles strongly predict a reduced disease-free survival,” the researchers wrote.

Patients were followed for five years after the surgery. At that point, about a quarter of patients had the thyroid cancer recur.

Researchers underwent testing on these patients, and found that for patients who tested positive for the BRAF mutation known as BRAFV600E, recurrence was more than twice as likely than when patients tested negative for that mutation. 

This research was very notable in proving that traditional markers like lymph node metastasis and raw size of the tumor were less accurate in predicting aggressive cancer than the presence of the BRAF gene mutation.

The presence of the BRAF gene in question was also shown to be related to the age of the patient upon diagnosis, the older the patient was, the more likely they would have the mutation.

Researchers stated that in addition to helping doctors judge the need for aggressive treatment of thyroid cancer in patients with BRAF mutations, future drugs targeting BRAF may become key therapies for this type of papillary thyroid carcinoma.

The research was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on April 16th, 2012.

Financial disclosures were not made publicly available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 26, 2012
Last Updated:
April 27, 2012