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'Gene signature' test diagnoses benign thyroid growths
Date:6/17/2013

A new genetic test accurately and consistently diagnoses benign growths, or nodules, on the thyroid gland, according to a study from Chile. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

"We have developed a 'gene signature' that effectively identifies benign thyroid nodules," said Hernan Gonzalez, MD, PhD, associate professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. "This test is potentially useful to identify patients who do not require surgery."

The thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck, secretes thyroid hormone. This hormone is involved in many bodily processes, including turning food into energy. For unknown reasons, the thyroid gland sometimes develops small nodules. Although these nodules are extremely common and usually benign, a small number are cancerous, which makes screening tests essential.

In the United States this year, slightly more than 60,000 cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed and about 1,850 related deaths will occur, according to estimates from the American Cancer Society. Of these diagnosed cases, more than 45,000 will occur in women, who develop the disease more often than men.

Fortunately, thyroid cancer usually is curable. Screening for thyroid cancer involves using a thin needle to take a biopsy of the growth, called a fine needle aspirate biopsy, which is then analyzed for cancer cells.

The problem with the currently available screening test is that it often yields inconclusive results. In one-fifth to one-fourth of these tests, the results are unclear. In addition to causing anxiety among patients, inconclusive tests lead to repeated tests to rule out cancer, or even to surgery, given that cancer is present in about 25 percent of inconclusive cases. As a result, three out of four patients have unnecessary surgery, leading to rising treatment costs and the risk of possible complications related to u
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Contact: Aaron Lohr
alohr@endocrine.org
240-482-1380
The Endocrine Society
Source:Eurekalert

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