Researchers from Turkey and the United States have developed a new diagnostic approach to detect thyroid cancers, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), which they say increases the accuracy of decision-making due to its objective diagnostic features.

The sampling method is also simpler and faster than the clinical pathology examinations that are currently performed to diagnose cancer, the researchers wrote. The incidence of thyroid cancer is rapidly increasing, and it is still difficult to diagnose the disease. 

Currently, the gold standard of diagnosis is based on high-resolution ultrasonography and fine-needle aspiration cytology. However, both approaches are associated with a number of technical limitations. Given the importance of accurate and timely diagnosis, novel approaches are urgently needed, the study team wrote.

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In the present study, which was published in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, a team of researchers led by Mustafa Çulha, PhD, developed a novel analytical approach called cryosectioned-polydimethylsiloxane, which was performed on biopsy samples obtained by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). 

Read more about the diagnosis of MTC

The researchers evaluated their approach in 64 thyroid biopsy samples and reported that the “thyroid biopsies were diagnosed as 100% by their significant SERS spectral bands used as biomarkers.” They said that their method was able to differentiate cancerous samples from healthy ones “with a simple and fast sample preparation methodology” and that it could be easily adapted to pathology clinics.

MTC makes up around 5% to 10% of all thyroid cancer. The others are follicular thyroid carcinoma and anaplastic thyroid cancer. MTC arises from the parafollicular cells of the thyroid gland, which derive from the embryonic neural crest cells and make up around 1% of thyroid cells.

Surgical treatment is the only curative option for MTC and survival rates dramatically decrease as the cancer spreads, so early diagnosis is of great importance.


Mert S, Sancak S, Aydın H, et al. Development of a SERS based cancer diagnosis approach employing cryosectioned thyroid tissue samples on PDMS. Nanomedicine. Published online June 15, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.nano.2022.102577