Objective: Thyroid cancer can be detected in 5–10% of patients with thyroid nodules. Management may be a challenge if fine-needle aspiration biopsy yields Bethesda III findings. Most of these cases undergo surgery and are ultimately found benign. Our aim was to evaluate whether serum osteopontin can accurately estimate thyroid cancer risk in cases with cytologically Bethesda III thyroid nodules and, thereby, decrease the number of unnecessary surgical interventions.
Design and Methods: We obtained blood samples of cases with repeated cytologically Bethesda III thyroid nodules before surgery, and followed up the pathology results after thyroidectomy. We evaluated serum osteopontin from 36 patients with papillary thyroid cancer and compared them with 40 benign cases.
Results: Serum osteopontin levels in patients with papillary thyroid cancer are significantly higher than in benign cases (mean serum osteopontin: 10.48 ± 3.51 ng/mL vs 6.14 ± 2.29 ng/mL, p<0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristics curve was 0.851, suggesting that serum osteopontin could have considerable discriminative performance.
Conclusions: In our preliminary study, high serum osteopontin levels can predict the risk of papillary thyroid cancer in thyroid nodules with Bethesda III cytology. Further studies are necessary to confirm these findings.