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New Study Highlights Utility of Mutation Testing in Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Mutations in two key oncogenes are associated with patient outcomes in anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC), pointing to the utility of tumor mutation testing during treatment decision making for individuals with the disease, according to a new study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology this week. ATC, a rare but deadly form of thyroid cancer, has been shown to be genetically heterogenous, but the clinical significance of the cancer's different mutation profiles has not been closely examined. To do so, investigators from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center performed mutation sequencing using targeted gene panels on 202 ATC patients and find that the cancer can be divided into three subtypes based on mutually exclusive driver mutations in the genes BRAF and RAS. One of the subtypes is associated with the most aggressive form of ATC while another appears to be linked to the best patient outcomes, largely because it responds well to BRAF-directed treatment. The findings, the study's authors concludes, indicates that "comprehensive tumor mutation profiling should be obtained for patients with ATC as a part of the routine clinical workup at diagnosis."