Doctors Reclassify a Thyroid Tumour as Non-Cancerous

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Non-Malignant Thyroid Tumour

A study published in the journal, JAMA Oncology, reports that an international panel of doctors has decided that a type of tumour earlier identified as cancer is not a cancer at all. Patients as a result will be spared from removing their thyroids or treating them with radioactive iodine. Moreover, they will not be obliged for regular checkups throughout their lives.

The reclassified tumour is a small lump in the thyroid that is completely surrounded by a capsule of fibrous tissue. The nucleus looks like a cancer but its cells do not break out of the capsule. Hence, the panel suggested that removing the entire thyroid through surgery followed by treatment with radioactive iodine is unnecessary and harmful. The team has therefore changed the name of the tumour from ‘encapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma,’ to ‘noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features’, or NIFTP.

The downgrading of the tumour was long overdue and many cancer experts are also demanding to reclassify some other forms of cancer, including certain lesions in the breast and prostate. This reclassification comes nearly two decades after an early stage urinary tract tumour was reclassified in 1998.

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