, Volume 459, Issue 3, pp 265-276
Date: 28 Jul 2011

The preeminence of growth pattern and invasiveness and the limited influence of BRAF and RAS mutations in the occurrence of papillary thyroid carcinoma lymph node metastases

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Abstract

Prognostic factors indicative of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) aggressive behaviour remain incompletely established partially due to the different composition of the series on record regarding the relative proportion of classic PTC (CPTC) and follicular variant PTC (FVPTC) subtypes. Several clinico-morphological features of PTC, together with the occurrence of BRAF mutations, are still not fully accepted as markers of aggressiveness. In the present clinico-pathological study of a series of 75 CPTC and FVPTC cases, we evaluated the relative contribution of the morphological features of the tumours and their BRAF and N-RAS status for the occurrence of nodal metastases. The morphological features most closely related to the occurrence of nodal metastases were extra-thyroid extension and poorly circumscribed growth pattern, in both CPTC and FVPTC. Additional features significantly associated to nodal metastases were multicentricity in the CPTC and vascular invasion in the FVPTC group. BRAF V600E mutation was detected in 29% of tumours, 41% of CPTC and 16% of FVPTC; N-RAS Q61R mutation was detected in 6% of tumours, 3% of CPTC and 10% of FVPTC. BRAF mutation was significantly more frequent in the CPTC group and in females, and it was detected only in patients older than 20 years, suggesting a late tumourigenic effect in the development of PTC. BRAF mutation was not significantly associated to any of the other studied features related to aggressiveness or nodal metastases. These results highlight the importance of infiltrative growth pattern and invasiveness over the presence of BRAF mutation in classic and follicular variant PTC for the development of nodal metastases.