Biomarkers could diagnose thyroid cancer during surgery

If malignant cells can be identified quickly and accurately enough, surgeons operating on patients with suspected thyroid cancer can remove cancerous tissue, speeding up the treatment process and avoiding the need for a second operation. It's important to detect malignant cells quickly, accurately and cost-effectively so that cancerous tissue can be removed before the end of the procedure.

Current techniques need purified DNA. High resolution melting analysis (HRM) can detect mutations in the DNA portion of a tissue homogenate without needing the purification step, speeding up the whole process. Researchers at the Chosun University Hospital in South Korea assessed HRM as a potential technique in thyroid cancer and presented the results at the 81st Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association (ATA).

HRM was able to detect the presence of the papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) biomarker BRAF V600E, a mutation in a kinase-encoding gene. The results using HRM were similar to those using purified DNA, and the researchers reported that the test was cost-effective and could be completed within 50 minutes, allowing it to be used during an operation.

Being able to identify cancerous cells during rather than after an operation will reduce risk and cut stress for the patient, as well as potentially reducing overall costs, which is important in this time of financial uncertainty.

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