Context: Use of BRAF mutation in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) has the potential to improve risk stratification of this cancer.
Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate the prognostic value of BRAF mutation in patients with PTC.
Design, setting, and subjects: In a multicenter study of 219 PTC patients, data on their clinicopathological characteristics and clinical courses between 1990 and 2004 were retrospectively collected, and their tumor BRAF mutation status was determined. Associations of BRAF mutation with initial tumor characteristics and subsequent recurrence were analyzed.
Main outcome measure: Relationships between the BRAF mutation status and clinicopathological outcomes, including recurrence, were measured.
Results: We found a significant association between BRAF mutation and extrathyroidal invasion (P < 0.001), lymph node metastasis (P < 0.001), and advanced tumor stage III/IV (P = 0.007) at initial surgery. This association remained significant on multivariate analysis, adjusting for conventional clinicopathological predictors of recurrence excluding the histological PTC subtype, but was lost when the tumor subtype was included in the model. BRAF mutation was also significantly associated with tumor recurrence, 25 vs. 9% with and without mutation, respectively (P = 0.004), during a median of 15 (interquartile range, 3-29) months of follow-up. This association remained significant on multivariate analysis adjusting for conventional clinicopathological predictors of recurrence, even including the PTC subtype (odds ratio, 4.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-14.1; P = 0.03). BRAF mutation was even an independent predictor of recurrence in patients with stage I/II disease, 22 vs. 5% with and without BRAF mutation, respectively (P = 0.002). BRAF mutation was also more frequently associated with absence of tumor I-131 avidity and treatment failure of recurrent disease.
Conclusions: In patients with PTC, BRAF mutation is associated with poorer clinicopathological outcomes and independently predicts recurrence. Therefore, BRAF mutation may be a useful molecular marker to assist in risk stratification for patients with PTC.