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Gene Expression Classifier vs Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing in the Management of Indeterminate Thyroid Nodules

Masha J Livhits, Eric J Kuo, Angela M Leung, Jianyu Rao, Mary Levin, Michael L Douek, Katrina R Beckett, Kyle A Zanocco, Dianne S Cheung, Yaroslav A Gofnung, Stephanie Smooke-Praw, Michael W Yeh
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2018 June 1, 103 (6): 2261-2268

Context: Molecular testing has reduced the need for diagnostic hemithyroidectomy for indeterminate thyroid nodules. No studies have directly compared molecular testing techniques.

Objective: Compare the diagnostic performance of Afirma Gene Expression Classifier (GEC) with that of ThyroSeq v2 next-generation sequencing assay.

Design: Parallel randomized trial, monthly block randomization of patients with Bethesda III/IV cytology to GEC or ThyroSeq v2.

Setting: University of California, Los Angeles.

Participants: Patients who underwent thyroid biopsy (April 2016 to June 2017).

Intervention: Testing with GEC or ThyroSeq v2.

Main Outcome Measure: Molecular test performance.

Results: Of 1372 thyroid nodules, 176 (13%) had indeterminate cytology and 149 of 157 eligible indeterminate nodules (95%) were included in the study. Of nodules tested with GEC, 49% were suspicious, 43% were benign, and 9% were insufficient. Of nodules tested with ThyroSeq v2, 19% were mutation positive, 77% were mutation negative, and 4% were insufficient. The specificities of GEC and ThyroSeq v2 were 66% and 91%, respectively (P = 0.002); the positive predictive values of GEC and ThyroSeq v2 were 39% and 57%, respectively. Diagnostic hemithyroidectomy was avoided in 28 patients tested with GEC (39%) and 49 patients tested with ThyroSeq v2 (62%). Surveillance ultrasonography was available for 46 nodules (45 remained stable).

Conclusions: ThyroSeq v2 had higher specificity than Afirma GEC and allowed more patients to avoid surgery. Long-term surveillance is necessary to assess the false-negative rate of these particular molecular tests. Further studies are required for comparison with other available molecular diagnostics and for newer tests as they are developed.


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