The current test for Thyroid cancer is a fine-needle aspirate biopsy. According to a new study done at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, between one-fourth and one-fifth of the results gathered are unclear. Unclear tests cause increased anxiety among patients along with more tests or surgery where cancer is only present in 25% of cases. Three out of every four patients end up having unnecessary thyroidectomies (removal of the thyroid) which leads to high treatment costs and risk of complications.

Investigators have created a gene signature test which identifies 18 genes that are associated with thyroid cancer. Ten of those genes are then used to develop a computer program which finds thyroid nodules with cancer. The study tested thyroid nodules from 300 patients by using a DNA-amplifying test which they call the polymerase chain reaction. So far, the test has accurately identified benign nodules in almost all of the samples that were tested along with identifying cancerous and noncancerous tissue in 96% of samples. The test could be helpful in the future to identify those patients who do not need surgery.

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