-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have pinpointed
a genetic mutation that is strongly associated with an increased
risk of death in people with thyroid cancer.
The investigators followed more than 1,800 patients after their
initial treatment for papillary thyroid cancer, which accounts for
85 percent to 90 percent of all thyroid cancers.
After an average follow-up period of 33 months, 5 percent of
those with the BRAF V600E mutation had died, compared with 1
percent of those without the mutation, according to the study in
the April 10 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
However, the link between this mutation and increased risk of
death was not independent of tumor characteristics, the study
authors noted in a journal news release.
This, and the fact that the overall death rate from papillary
thyroid cancer is low, means that it is unclear how to use these
findings to reduce death risk in patients with this type of cancer,
said Dr. Mingzhao Xing, of the Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine, and colleagues.
The overall five-year survival rate for patients with papillary
thyroid cancer is 95 percent to 97 percent. It's a challenge to
distinguish patients who require aggressive treatment in order to
reduce their risk of death from patients who do not, the
Even so, the authors of an accompanying editorial pointed out
that the study provided important insight.
According to the editorialists, Dr. Anne Cappola and Dr. Susan
Mandel of the University of Pennsylvania, "Although these findings
do not support widespread BRAF V600E testing, they do support the
need for additional study of how BRAF testing can be used to
improve the already excellent prognosis of patients with papillary
While the study found an association between the gene mutation
and thyroid cancer survival, it did not establish a
The American Cancer Society has more about
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