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A Type Of Thyroid Tumor Is Not Considered A Cancer Anymore

Update Date: Apr 15, 2016 04:57 AM EDT

A type of thyroid tumor which was considered as cancer for decades is now reclassified not cancer anymore. This reclassification, which was expected for quite a long time is believed to change the way how people look at it as well as the doctors' approach in terms of treatment.

The thyroid tumor which was referred to as "encapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma," is now renamed as "noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features," or NIFTP. The word carcinoma which holds the meaning that the tumor is cancerous is now removed from the term, reported New York Times.

According to a study published in the journal JAMA Oncology, the reclassification of follicular thyroid carcinoma into noninvasive neoplasm would have an impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people in the US. There will be a huge difference in the way the tumor will be looked at and as well as the treatment plan is devised.

"This phenomenon is known as overdiagnosis," said senior investigator Dr Yuri Nikiforov, professor of pathology and director of Pitt's Division of Molecular and Genomic Pathology, according to Science Daily.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time in the modern era a type of cancer is being reclassified as a non-cancer. I hope that it will set an example for other expert groups to address nomenclature of various cancer types that have indolent behavior to prevent inappropriate and costly treatment," Nikiforov added.

The renamed tumor is a small lump in thyroid which is surrounded by a capsule of fibrous tissue. Though the nucleus appears like cancer, the cells are noninvasive and are not broken out of the capsule.

Since the tumor is encased and doesn't invade nearby tissues unlike their malignant counterparts, the removal of the thyroid gland for the purpose of treatment is declared unnecessary hereafter. As the thyroid is not removed, patients will not require the radioactive iodine therapy as well.

Following up thousands of patients with both non-invasive as well as malignant tumors for over ten years, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine observed that patients with encapsulated tumors had no recurrence once their tumors were removed. The individuals didn't seem to be in need of monthly and yearly check-ups as well.

"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," Nikiforov said.

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