Thyroid ultrasound imaging may be useful to reduce biopsies in patients with low risk of cancer

August 26, 2013

Thyroid ultrasound imaging could be used to identify patients who have a low risk of cancer for whom biopsy could be postponed, according to a study by Rebecca Smith-Bindman, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues.

The retrospective case-control study of 8,806 patients who underwent 11,618 thyroid ultrasound imaging examinations from January 2000 through March 2005 included 105 patients diagnosed as having thyroid cancer.

Thyroid nodules were common in patients diagnosed as having cancer (96.9 percent) and patients not diagnosed as having thyroid cancer (56.4 percent). Three ultrasound nodule characteristics--microcalcifications (odds ratio [OR] 8.1), size greater than 2 cm (OR, 3.6), and an entirely solid composition (OR, 4.0)--were the only findings associated with the risk of thyroid cancer. Compared with performing biopsy for all thyroid nodules larger than 5 mm, adoption of this more stringent approach requiring two abnormal nodule characteristics to prompt biopsy would reduce unnecessary biopsies by 90 percent while maintaining a low risk of cancer, according to the study results.

"Although thyroid nodules are common, most (98.4 percent) are benign, highlighting the importance of being prudent in deciding which nodules should be sampled to reduce unnecessary biopsies." The study concludes, "Adoption of uniform standards for the interpretation of thyroid sonograms would be a first step toward standardizing the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer and limiting unnecessary diagnostic testing and treatment."
(JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 26, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9245. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor's Note: The study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and a SEED grant from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, University of California, San Francisco. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to