New molecular test may prevent unnecessary surgery in patients with benign thyroid nodules

At this year's International Thyroid Congress, Veracyte - a molecular diagnostics company - announced that its fine needle aspirates (FNA) test determined thyroid nodules as benign with a high degree of accuracy, which could help thousands of patients each year avoid surgery.

Researchers from the company found that among 66 thyroid FNA samples, Veracyte's test had a higher proportion of patients with negative test results who were correctly diagnosed than compared to the standard of two blinded expert histopathology reviews - which are microscopic examinations of tissue in order to study the disease.

"A test with this high of a negative predictive value will help doctors rule out malignancy and confidently monitor many patients with ambiguous thyroid nodules, enabling these patients to avoid unnecessary surgery," said lead author Bryan R. Haugen, professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Colorado.

Haugen noted that FNAs are recommended for most patients with thyroid nodules to help determine if they are benign or malignant, but that 15 to 30 percent of samples have indeterminate cytology results. Many of these patients require surgery for final diagnosis, with the majority proving to be benign.

"This molecular classifier is a major advance in our ability to appropriately manage a large number of patients with thyroid nodules," Haugen added.