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Genomic 'markers' may head off thousands of thyroid surgeries
Date:11/23/2010

s no cancer. The answer, it now turns out, is yes. The secret lies in the genes.

"When we see test results showing the right patterns we can say with a great deal of certainty that, despite initial concerns, the patient does not have cancer," Haugen says.

The test was developed by Veracyte, a California-based molecular diagnostics company. The company is marketing its thyroid test branded Afirma on a limited basis and plans additional commercialization in early 2011.

Veracyte's researchers developed the test by identifying genomic patterns that would reliably tell when a patient has no cancer present. Haugen's team at CU, along with researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a part of Harvard Medical School, is now co-leading a national trial to validate Veracyte's test. The trial involves more than 40 sites that are comparing the genomic test's results to analyses by two pathology experts of tissue obtained by traditional surgery. In September Haugen presented early information to an international thyroid conference in Paris. The findings confirmed the test's premise that when certain patterns appear among 142 thyroid genes (out of tens of thousands), the odds are very high more than 95 percent that there's no cancer.

That's a probability but not a certainty. Those odds are similar, however, to when an expert pathologist looks at the cells and determines there is no cancer -- but this time without surgery.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 44,670 new thyroid cancer cases (33,930 in women, and 10,740 in men) will be diagnosed nationwide this year. Nearly two-thirds of the cases occur in people between the ages of 20 and 55. The chance of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer has doubled since 1990, in part because of better detection.


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Contact: Dan Meyers
dan.meyers@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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