In an effort to reduce overdiagnosis, the encapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (EFVPTC) is no longer classified as cancer, as it is not dangerous and does not require the same type of therapy as other types of cancer.
Although EFVPTC is dealt with aggressive treatments, the fact that it is no longer classified as cancer will result in an important decrease in psychological and clinical consequences that can be directly associated to the diagnosis.
Why is this tumor not cancer?
Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine realized a couple of years ago that EFVPTC is only a small lump wrapped in fibrous tissue in the thyroid organ. This tumor is not dangerous to the body unless its structure becomes physically damaged; but extracting it and treating the area with radiation, the typical method of therapy, proves to be of greater harm to the organism.
The diagnosis of EFVPTC has increased at about three times of the amount that corresponded to 20 years ago, thus requiring unnecessary expensive treatments and causing emotional and psychological distress until now, as the campaign successfully managed to have EFVPTC no longer classified as cancer. The reason why the detection of thyroid cancer has been increasing these past years is because of the classification as the cancer of tumors that are known to be inert or non-progressive.
The study was performed over the course of 10 years. 24 experienced pathologists hailing from 7 different countries proceeded to analyze the tumors on over 200 patients affected with the disease. The patients whose lumps were not damaged did not present any other symptom of cancer, but it is worth noting that those who had their lumps’ fibrous wrapping damaged did present further complications.
EFVPTC was then renamed to NIFTP, meaning “noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features.” The treatment of thyroid cancer costs a total of $1.6 billion in the U.S. only, and if NIFTP is correctly diagnosed it can help to reduce this amount in a substantial manner, and also reducing the amount of emotional pressure that befalls upon the patient when receiving a diagnosis related to a tumor.
“I hope that it will set an example for other expert groups to address the nomenclature of various cancer types that have indolent behavior to prevent inappropriate and costly treatment,” said Dr Yuri Nikiforov, professor of pathology and director of Pittsburgh’s Division of Molecular and Genomic Pathology.
Source: Jama Oncology