Can We Predict Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Behavior? Role of Genetic and Molecular Markers

Medicina (Kaunas). 2021 Oct 19;57(10):1131. doi: 10.3390/medicina57101131.


Thyroid cancer is ranked in ninth place among all the newly diagnosed cancer cases in 2020. Differentiated thyroid cancer behavior can vary from indolent to extremely aggressive. Currently, predictions of cancer prognosis are mainly based on clinicopathological features, which are direct consequences of cell and tissue microenvironment alterations. These alterations include genetic changes, cell cycle disorders, estrogen receptor expression abnormalities, enhanced epithelial-mesenchymal transition, extracellular matrix degradation, increased hypoxia, and consecutive neovascularization. All these processes are represented by specific genetic and molecular markers, which can further predict thyroid cancer development, progression, and prognosis. In conclusion, evaluation of cancer genetic and molecular patterns, in addition to clinicopathological features, can contribute to the identification of patients with a potentially worse prognosis. It is essential since it plays a crucial role in decision-making regarding initial surgery, postoperative treatment, and follow-up. To date, there is a large diversity in methodologies used in different studies, frequently leading to contradictory results. To evaluate the true significance of predictive markers, more comparable studies should be conducted.

Keywords: genetic testing; molecular markers; thyroid cancer; thyroid cancer clinicopathological features.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Biomarkers, Tumor