The impact of noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features on the performance of the Afirma gene expression classifier

Jen Fan Hang, William H. Westra, David S. Cooper, Syed Z. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: A recent revision in thyroid tumor nomenclature has resulted in a change from a malignant diagnosis (noninvasive follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma) to one that is nonmalignant (noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features [NIFTP]). The objective of the current study was to evaluate the impact of this change on the performance of the Afirma gene expression classifier (GEC). METHODS: The authors retrospectively analyzed consecutive thyroid fine-needle aspiration specimens with indeterminate diagnoses on which GEC was performed. Surgical pathology material was reviewed with the reclassification of nodules into NIFTP. RESULTS: GEC testing was performed on 384 fine-needle aspiration specimens diagnosed as atypia of undetermined significance (AUS) (304 cases) and suspicious for a follicular neoplasm (SFN) (80 cases) and yielded a suspicious result in 152 of the AUS cases (50%) and 50 of the SFN cases (63%). Thyroidectomy was performed on 177 patients. After reclassifying NIFTP, the positive predictive value of GEC decreased from 42% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 39%-45%) to 24% (95% CI, 22%-26%) in the AUS group and from 23% (95% CI, 19%-27%) to 13% (95% CI, 9%-18%) in the SFN group. Total thyroidectomy was performed more frequently than a partial thyroidectomy in patients with AUS with a suspicious GEC result compared with pre-GEC controls (68% vs 49%; P =.037). CONCLUSIONS: Reclassification of NIFTP significantly decreases the positive predictive value of GEC in indeterminate thyroid nodules. Nevertheless, the majority of patients with indeterminate thyroid nodules with a suspicious GEC result in the study institution have undergone total thyroidectomy. This finding raises concerns over reliance on a suspicious GEC result by clinicians to justify total thyroidectomy. Cancer Cytopathol 2017;125:683-91.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-691
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Cytopathology
Volume125
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Afirma
  • gene expression classifier
  • indeterminate thyroid nodules
  • noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features (NIFTP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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