Genetic Testing For Thyroid Cancer

There are four different kinds of thyroid cancer that is papillary cancer, which accounts for 90% of all thyroid cancers, anaplastic, medullary, and follicular thyroid cancer, which jointly constitute the remaining 10% of all cases.

As is illustrated by the figures papillary thyroid cancer is the most common and is generally not fatal for people 40 years and below. It responds well to treatments such as chemotherapy unlike anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is a lot more complex and harder to deal with.

Thyroid cancer can be diagnosed using ultrasound guided fine-needled aspiration {USG/FNA} or using thyroidectomy which is basically surgical removal and a follow up histological examination to check if the whole cancerous growth was removed or if it is growing again.

Genetic testing helps with this and with prognosis of the disease which are both essential in clinical decision making for both the doctor and the patient.

Genetic testing helps detect heritable disease- related karyotypes, genotypes, phenotypes and mutations. It is done by the study and analysis of deoxyribo-nucleic-acid {more commonly known as DNA}, ribo-nucleic-acid {known as RNA}, proteins and chromosomes.

It is not the most effective way of matching diagnosis to symptoms of the patient and this is because with cancer, genetic testing is not hundred percent accurate it only shows the likelihood that a patient inherited the disease.

Medullary thyroid cancer mostly affects the larger secretory cells of the thyroid gland which is found in the neck. Medullary cancer can be genetically tested for using the RET mutation test by finding the presence of medullary carcinoma.

This test has high accuracy levels and can be used to start prophylactic thyroidetomy treatment for those who are thought to have inherited the mutation. That is DNA is extracted from the patients body and mutated resulting cells are tested to verify if there are cancerous or not by observing behavior and other characteristics. If a DNA based test is negative, to be sure the doctors recommend a muscle biopsy should be done to verify the results of the first one.

If one parent carries the gene for thyroid cancer it is generally thought that there is a 50% chance that the child and/or children also carry the gene and it is most likely not recessive but dominant.

Dominant means that the gene expresses it self and recessive means the gene is present but the characteristic not expressed.  Recessive carriers have a very high chance of passing the gene on to their children and the gene being dominant.