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[Thyroid nodules: benign or malignant?]

F Liénart, F Charret, C Daper, C Dekeyser, J Ducobu, A Malengreau, A Van Coevorden
Revue Médicale de Bruxelles 2011, 32 (5): 445-52
22165522
A thyroid nodule is a frequent occurrence. Its prevalence in a general adult population is about 50% and can even reach 67% when a cervical echography is performed. Only 5% of these nodules are cancers, and it is therefore important to avoid an useless and riskful surgery. We review the clinical factors and diagnostic tools available to reach the best options. The patient history and clinical signs give some informations about potential risks. Thyroid tests shall evaluate thyroid functional status and a thyroid scintigraphy shall detect hot thyroid nodules. The thyroid echography is a key element before fine needle aspiration cytology. Some echographic criteria in the TIRADS (Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System), classification can reach a 88% sensitivity, a 49% specificity, a 49% positive predictive value, a 88% negative predictive value and a 94% diagnostic accuracy. The fine needle aspiration cytology performed with echography will be crucial to decide if the patient is to be eligible for surgery. In 70 to 80% of the cases, nodules can be classified as benign or malignant with a 92% negative predictive value for a benign diagnosis and a 100% positive predictive value for a diagnosis of cancer. The discovery of a follicular proliferation (cancer incidence of 20-30%) is a grey zone. Follicular proliferation and definite cancer lead of course to a surgical option. A decisional tree summarizes the different steps leading to a therapeutic decision. The type of surgery and its complications are described at the end.

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