BRAFV600 co-testing is technically feasible in conventional thyroid fine needle aspiration (FNA) cytology smears and can reduce the need for completion thyroidectomy

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Abstract

Introduction:

While fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is the mainstay of diagnosis in thyroid nodules, molecular markers of thyroid cancer have recently been shown to be of value in improving the diagnosis and reducing the rates of unnecessary surgery.

Method:

A technical method is presented for the assessment of the BRAF V600 gene mutation in thyroid cancer using a simple adaptation of a commercially available kit. After standard preparation and reporting of conventionally stained alcohol-fixed Papanicolaou or air-dried Giemsa-stained slides the coverslip is removed from one slide, the DNA is extracted and submitted for PCR analysis.

Results:

Assessment of the BRAF V600 mutational status is feasible in very small quantities of DNA, requiring just greater than 5 ng per case from a single pre-stained FNA slide using this method. From the 14 cases examined thus far, one Thy4/Bethesda Class V case (suspicious of malignancy) has been identified with a BRAF V600 mutation and this patient, after multidisciplinary discussion, received a total thyroidectomy.

Conclusion:

Based on this methodology and other published results for the BRAF mutation, we believe that it is now feasible and cost effective for the UK NHS to BRAF co-test all Thy4/Bethesda Class V thyroid FNAs, as the additional cost of BRAF testing will still be much less than the cost of submitting all Thy4 (Bethesda Class V) patients to a partial and then a later completion thyroidectomy.

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