Thyroid Tumor Type Reclassified as Non-Cancerous

Pathologists revised the terminology of a type of thyroid tumor to remove “cancer” from its name.

Thyroid tumors, such as encapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (EFVPTC), are non-progressing even though they have cellular abnormalities traditionally considered cancerous, according to a study published in JAMA.

The occurrence of EFCPTC comprises 10 to 20% of all thyroid cancers diagnosed in Europe and North America.

EFCPTC is not dangerous, according to researchers, and is not treated aggressively like other types of thyroid cancer is. As a result, a panel of pathologists revised the tumor’s name to reflect that.

The panel independently reviewed 268 EFCPTC tumor samples. The researchers came up with diagnostic criteria that included cellular features, tumor invasion, and other factors.

In a group of over 100 noninvasive EFCPTCs, researchers found that after a 13-year follow up, there were no reoccurrences of the disease.

Researchers then renamed the tumor noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features (NIFTP).

The new name includes important diagnostic information, but omits the word cancer since it does not need to receive aggressive treatment.

"We determined that if NIFTP is carefully diagnosed, the tumor's recurrence rate is extremely low, likely less than 1% within the first 15 years," senior researcher Yuri Nikiforov, MD, PhD, said in a press release. "The cost of treating thyroid cancer in 2013 was estimated to exceed $1.6 billion in the U.S. Not only does the reclassification eliminate the psychological impact of the diagnosis of 'cancer,' it reduces the likelihood of complications of total thyroid removal, and the overall cost of health care."