Background: The activating BRAF(V600E) mutation is the most common genetic alteration reported in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). While some reports suggest the BRAF(V600E) mutation is associated with factors predicting a poor prognosis and recurrence, this remains a controversial issue.
Aim: To determine whether the presence of the BRAF(V600E) mutation is a prognostic indicator for clinical recurrence in low-risk patients with conventional PTC.
Patients and methods: The study involved 203 conventional PTC patients who underwent total or near-total thyroidectomy followed by immediate 131I ablation of the remnants. Patients with antithyroglobulin antibodies and those with extracervical metastases at presentation were excluded. DNA was extracted from paraffin-embedded tumour specimens, and the presence of the BRAF(V600E) mutation was evaluated using PCR amplification and direct sequencing.
Results: The BRAF(V600E) mutation was found to be present in 149 (73.4%) of 203 patients. The BRAF(V600E) mutation was correlated with male gender (P = 0.006) and with tumour size (P = 0.005). While there appeared to be an association between the BRAF(V600E) mutation and extrathyroid extension, this did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.062). During follow-up of the 203 patients (median 7.3 years; range 0.7-10.0 years), 36 (18%) patients experienced recurrence. While univariate analysis showed the BRAF(V600E) mutation was associated with tumour recurrence (21% with mutation vs 7% without mutation; P = 0.037), this association was not shown following multivariate analyses adjusting for the clinicopathological prognostic factors of age, gender, tumour size, extrathyroid extension, multifocality and lymph node metastasis.
Conclusions: Although the BRAF(V600E) mutation was found to be associated with a higher clinical recurrence of disease in low-risk conventional PTC patients, it was not an independent predictor.