Application of Molecular Diagnostics to the Evaluation of the Surgical Approach to Thyroid Cancer
Affiliation: Department of Surgical, Medical, Molecular Pathology and Critical Area, University of Pisa, Via Savi, 10, 56126, Pisa, Italy.
Recent important studies that include long-term follow-up have shown that BRAF and RAS mutations can have
negative implications for disease recurrence and survival. BRAF positivity has been shown to be associated with decreased
survival and is an independent predictor of poor prognosis. Reliable pre-operative identification of high-risk papillary
thyroid cancer (PTC) patients may productively guide initial surgical management since reoperative neck surgery is associated
with increased morbidity. However, it is probably too early to conclude that at present it is possible to tailor surgical
therapy patient by patient only on the basis of their mutational status. Other important parameters, not including molecular
testing, represented by some specific morphological aspects, still play an important role, probably still more significant
than molecular diagnostics, such as neck ultrasonography. Pre-operative knowledge of BRAF-positive PTC could
alter the initial surgical treatment for at least 20% of patients and can potentially prevent the increased morbidity associated
with reoperative neck exploration. However, additional multi-institutional and randomized studies will be needed to
further define the role of the pre-operative identification of BRAF positivity to guide not only the initial extent of total
thyroidectomy (TT) but also the need for and extent of lymphadenectomy.
Keywords: Papillary thyroid cancer, BRAF, RAS, Total thyroidectomy, Lymphadenectomy, 131-I therapy, Hemithyroidectomy.
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