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Reported December 26, 2012

Avoiding Unnecessary Surgeries: New Thyroid Cancer Test

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States.  Biopsies can catch the problem before it’s too late, but many times the results are inconclusive. That means patients might have to have their thyroids removed, even if there is no cancer.

Ferne Berger’s life was turned upside down when an ultrasound showed a nodule on her thyroid gland.  Ferne had a biopsy, but her results were inconclusive.

“The fear of them being malignant was certainly very scary,” thyroid patient, Ferne Berger, told Ivanhoe.

Half a million nodules are biopsied each year and Dr. Paul Aoun says up to 30 percent of the time results come back inconclusive.

The traditional next step for those patients has been to remove all or part of the thyroid.

“…only 25-percent end up having cancer,” Endocrinologist, Paul Aoun, DO, PhD,  at Palm Beach Diabetes & Endocrine Specialists, told Ivanhoe.

Now, if a biopsy comes back inconclusive, doctors have a new tool to test the sample.  The gene expression classifier test measures 142 gene patterns, including those present in thyroid cancer and can reclassify nodules as benign or possibly malignant.

“That could result in saving about half the patients proceeding to unnecessary surgery,” Dr. Aoun said.

A study showed the test is 94 percent accurate in reclassifying inconclusive results as benign.  Another study showed the test helped reduce surgery rates by 90 percent.

Ferne’s results showed her nodule was benign and she did not need surgery.

“It was a big weight off my shoulders,” Ferne explained.

Studies show incorporating the classifier test into the diagnosis process has resulted in higher quality of life for patients and less costs to the healthcare system.

More Information

Click here for additional research on Avoiding Unnecessary Surgeries:  New Thyroid Cancer Test

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Paul Aoun

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